Stratford, Wynnewood schools delay start dates; Paoli policies announced

By Jeff Shultz

Managing Editor

Students in the Stratford School District will return to classes on August 19, according to Superintendent of Schools Michael Blackburn.

The original start date of August 12 was pushed back this week for a number of reasons, according to Blackburn.

“This is due to some website issues from our host, causing some enrollment problems,” Blackburn said. Blackburn said the later date will also give the district the opportunity to help parents and students who have enrolled in the full virtual option to be better prepared.

“It will also give our teachers more of an opportunity to work with new distance learning tools,” he added.

Information appearing on the district’s website, stated the new school year will present different challenges for the administration, staff, teachers, students and parents.

“The upcoming school year will likely have disruptions to instruction in response to COVID-19,” Blackburn told school patrons.

“Please bear with us. This is the first pandemic for all of us,” the website stated.

According to Blackburn, Stratford schools will have two options for enrollment of students.

The first will be a traditional enrollment, which includes in-person learning taught by accredited Stratford teachers. 

The second choice for parents will be online classes for the student to participate in.

“These will be 100 percent online classes, with individualized online learning content available to the student 24/7,” Blackburn said.

The online courses will also be taught by accredited Stratford teachers and, if needed, a device can be issued by the school to assist the student in course materials.

With both options, the student will be able to participate in school-sponsored extracurricular activities.

District personnel will be monitoring each student’s health during the school year.

“Each morning parents/guardians are asked to check for symptoms before sending their student to school,” the district’s back-to-school policy said.

Parents and guardians are asked to answer the following questions.

•Does the student (or the parent/guardian) have a temperature of 100 degrees or more?

•Does the child or parent have a sore throat?

•Does the child or parent have a cough?

•Does the child or parent have a loss of taste or smell?

•Does the child or parent have shortness of breath?

•Has your student or the parent had close contact with a positive COVID-19 case?

“Answering ‘yes’ to any of the questions means the student or staff should remain off-site,” Blackburn said.

In addition to the self-screening checklist, students will have their temperature checked each day upon entering a school building or boarding a school bus.

“This is to determine if the student is ‘fever free,’” said Blackburn, noting that “fever free” means a temperature of less than 100 degrees.

If a student has a fever, they will be isolated until a parent/guardian can come and get the student.

The district will also observe other hygiene measures, such as hand washing, and will be practicing social distancing.

“While it will be difficult to maintain distance between the students at school, each building or area will devise its own plans to provide for social distancing,” the policy stated.

Each teacher will have seating charts for their classroom.

Students and staff are strongly encouraged to wear masks or some type of face covering, especially when social distancing is not possible.

The complete back-to-school policy can be found on the district’s website at

Wynnewood schools have also pushed their first day of school back to August 27.

According to the district’s back-to-school plan, students entering the school building or boarding a bus will be required to have their temperatures checked. 

Like Stratford, students who register a temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or more will be required to be immediately isolated in a predetermined room with a monitor. At that time a parent/guardian will be contacted, and the student will be sent home. 

Masks will be recommended for students and teachers, but not required. The district does require face masks for the following people.

•All bus drivers will be required to wear masks or face shields.
•All kitchen workers will be required to wear gloves, masks or face shields. 

•All building visitors, including parents or guardians, will be required to wear masks upon entering the building. If a building visitor does not have a mask, one will be provided.

A complete policy for the parents and guardians of students is available on the district’s website at

In Paoli, the first day of school will be August 12. The district’s website notes the school has been preparing for a return to the classroom for several months.

“Throughout the past several months, the district has been in close communication with the County Health Department and the Oklahoma State Department of Education and has continuously monitored the Center for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines,” the district’s website said.

“The district is certain students are experiencing unfinished learning, and this could widen the learning gaps. Strategies will be implemented to overcome any learning gaps that resulted from the spring school closure.”

Paoli’s school district is preparing for a traditional, virtual and hybrid learning plan, as well as preparing for intermittent building closures. 

According to the plan, the district will refer to the CDC-recommended approach to handling positive cases and outbreaks while communicating with the Garvin County Health Department. 

The policy adds:

•Non-essential visitors will be limited and all visitors will be required
to wear a mask. 

•Daily temperature checks for every student and staff member will be required.

•Daily deep sanitations of campuses and buses, especially high-touch areas, will be conducted. Hand sanitizer will also be available on school buses and in every classroom and hallway. 

You can find Paoli’s complete back-to-school policy on the district’s website at