Barnsdall prepares for variety of options for 2020-21 year

Robert Smith rsmith@pawhuskajournalcapital.com

Barnsdall Public Schools is scheduled to complete its 2019-20 school year this week, with a graduation parade Friday night that observes social distancing arrangements to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Classes were last held in the school district’s buildings prior to spring break, in March, and Barnsdall implemented distance learning in early April, along with the rest of the schools in Oklahoma, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Superintendent Jeff Lay said Barnsdall’s school administrators are already planning to be ready for a variety of possible options when the 2020-21 school year begins, which is currently scheduled for Aug. 10. Lay said the best case scenario would be to return to the traditional model, with all students and teachers in school and no need for social distancing. The worst case scenario would be no students in school buildings and distance learning implemented.

Somewhere in between the best case and worst case scenarios could translate as some students, but not all of them, on campus at one time and social distancing protocols in place, Lay said.

“So our administrative team is meeting often,” he said. “We don’t want to be taken by surprise, like we were at spring break time. Right now, we’re in much better shape than we were then.”

Lay said every Barnsdall student will have a personal learning device (electronic device) in the 20-21 school year, and the school district now knows which families lack Internet connectivity, so the district will be able to deploy “hot spot” devices to provide connectivity to those families, if needed.

Lay said he is encouraged to know that Barnsdall now has the capacity to implement distance learning at any time, if necessary.

The school district is also planning professional development activities for this summer in regard to online classroom management. For 20-21, Barnsdall Public Schools currently plans to continue with four-day school weeks, Lay said. He explained that he is not sure what will happen in the 2021-22 school year, when the state is expected to implement new rules regarding four-day school weeks.

With regard to the major bond-financed capital improvement project that Barnsdall Public Schools has been carrying out, Lay said major construction is winding down. The new health-and-fitness building will likely be completed by the end of May and ready for occupancy in early June, he said. There is a building renovation project that may continue into the early fall, he said.

The school district’s meal-delivery program for students displaced from their normal school routines by the COVID-19 epidemic will end this Thursday, May 14, but local food banks in Barnsdall will be able to help address family food needs, he said.

As Barnsdall Public Schools concludes the 2019-20 school year, it is honoring its elementary school teacher of the year, jr./sr. high teacher of the year, and support person of the year. Those honorees, along with a brief biographical sketch provided by or about each one, are as follows:

2020 Elementary Teacher of the Year - Alyssa Robbins

“I grew up in western Oklahoma and graduated from Vici High School in 1999. I attended OSU in Stillwater and graduated with a degree in Elementary Education. I moved to Barnsdall and began working at the elementary school in January of 2004. I married Bryan Robbins in 2014, and we have 4 awesome kids, Reese, Ashlyn, Lyla, and Derek. I have taught upper elementary science for 16 years, and I have loved every minute of it. Teaching at Barnsdall has been one of the best choices I have ever made!”

2020 Jr/Sr High Teacher of the Year - Jace Goodwin

“Grew up in Akins, OK - youngest of 3 siblings. Graduated from Eastern Oklahoma State College in Wilburton in 2015 with a major in Agricultural Education-Agricultural Business, and from Oklahoma State University in 2017 with a major in Agricultural Education and a minor in Horticulture. Third year as an Agricultural Educator, first year at Barnsdall.”

2020 Support Person of the Year - Bobbi McGill

“Bobbi McGill is the District Treasurer and Business Manager for Barnsdall School. She also is the sponsor for the Class of 2020 and Student Council. She started at Barnsdall as the payroll and benefits clerk part-time in 2012 and was later hired full-time as the treasurer in 2015. Bobbi is married with 2 great boys both graduating this year, one from Oklahoma State University and the other from Barnsdall High School.”