BPS to end fall semester in distance learning

Less than a week after adjusting its criteria to stop in-person classes, Bartlesville Public Schools is going to distance learning.

With the district’s quarantine numbers tripling the week after Thanksgiving and ICU beds becoming scarce across the state, Bartlesville Public School officials announced on Dec. 7 that Dec. 10 will be the last day of in-person classes for the fall 2020 semester. Classes will be held online for the week of Dec. 14-18, while Dec. 11 was already scheduled to be a distance learning day.

As of Dec. 8, 337 Bartlesville students and 28 employees are in quarantine, including 140 just at the high school. An additional 15 students and 12 staff members are in isolation after testing positive.

All district-sponsored extracurricular activities, including spectator sports, will be suspended starting on Dec. 13. The varsity basketball teams’ home opener against Charles Page High School on Dec. 8 will continue as scheduled, but masks will be required and attendance will be limited to season ticket holders and student-athletes’ family members.

In the announcement, district officials indicated that they want to resume in-person classes on Jan. 4, 2021, but that would be contingent upon public health conditions after Christmas.

The decision to make the switch came just four days after BPS announced that it would adjust its criteria on whether to remain in person based off of ICU bed availability and case counts within the Bartlesville city limits.

As of Dec. 7, hospitals in both the Tulsa region and Northeastern Oklahoma region are classified as Tier III in the state’s surge plan, which means at least 20 percent of a region’s staffed hospital beds are being used for COVID-19 patients.

As of Dec. 7, the seven-day rolling average for new cases in Bartlesville is 63.6 for every 100,000 residents. Except for one day, Bartlesville’s per capita rolling average has been at or above 50 consistently since Nov. 19.