GROVE - The Oklahoma State Board of Education met virtually on Wednesday, March 25, for State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister.

The meeting was called to determine how schools would operate during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Hofmeister's proposal is the Continuous Learning Plan, which will move Oklahoma students into a virtual classroom for the remainder of the school year. The vote passed 7-0. Distance learning will begin on Monday, April 6.

“Oklahoma has tremendous educators – strong, dedicated, tenacious and smart. We have faith and confidence that our districts and teachers are committed to creative and innovative ways to continue learning for their students, and they will rise to this challenge,” said Hofmeister. “Distance Learning Plans will look different from district to district. Many districts have used online tools for some time and will be able to hit the ground running. Others have little connectivity and communities with little or no access to computer technology. I know the hard-working educators in our districts will pull together to make this adjustment to benefit all learners.”

Fortunately, Grove Public School administration has already implemented a virtual platform with the launch of e-Grove for the 2019-2020 school year.

"Traditional school as we know it will be closed," said Grove Superintendent Pat Dodson. "Staring April 6 we will start distance learning with all kids. It will be virtual school from here till the end of the school year."

Dodson says that most of the GPS students have already done some assignments throughout the year via a Google classroom.

"It will be a learning curve for us and we will get through it," said Dodson. "The whole idea is to help the kids through it so that they don't miss out."

Dodson also says that there is a chance that the 2020-2021 school year could start in this virtual mode, but says it depends on how long it takes for the Coronavirus (COVID-19) to pass through.

“Our education communities are tough, resilient and committed. They know, as we all do, that we are all in this together. If this pandemic underscores anything, it is that we must help one another,” Hofmeister said. “We understand the challenges all Oklahomans are facing, and we know we can count on our schools to provide the best education possible in a way that ensures the safety and health of students and everyone in the school and community.”

As for e-Grove's success, Dodson says that the learning system is still in it's first year.

"We have helped kids toward getting an education that otherwise wouldn't," said Dodson. "We had about 50 kids throughout the year who have taken advantage of our online school."

Dodson says that thanks to e-Grove, GPS has a blueprint of what online learning should look like.

"That [blueprint] will help us be ahead of the curve, because we do have some experience," said Dodson.

All extracurricular activities have been cancelled for the remaining school year, but Dodson encourages GPS students to write.

"I would love for all of our students to journal these extraordinary times. They can write what they are doing, what they miss, what discoveries they have found in themselves. There is limitless potential on what they can write about. When we get through this they can reflect back on the experience, and who knows maybe they can publish their story and makes some money," said Dodson.

The Grab and Go breakfasts and lunches have also been a success with around 550 daily requests.

"I would like to thank all of our cafeteria cooks and staff who are coming to work everyday to prepare breakfast and lunches for any student that wants fed," said Dodson.

For the class of 2020, Hofmeister and the Board of Education are allowing each district to adopt a plan to ensure that students meet graduation requirements.

For more information on the ever-changing situation, visit GPS on Facebook at Grove Public Schools, OK.