‘Our Students are Paying the Ultimate Price’: State Superintendent Weighs in on Closings

Beverly Cantrell - January 12, 2022 7:02 am

State Superintendent and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Joy Hofmeister tweeted Tuesday in the midst of a flurry of school closings and switches to virtual learning.

“Our students are paying the ultimate price for the lack of leadership from the Governor’s office during this pandemic,” Hofmeister tweeted in a thread. “Schools need to be open and school leaders are doing everything in their power to make that happen.”

Superintendent Hofmeister, who is taking on Governor Stitt in the next gubernatorial election if she gets the democratic nomination, added that “pretending the pandemic doesn’t exist does nothing to solve the problem”.

“In fact, it makes it worse. This week is living proof. It is past time to stop pitting Oklahomans against one another and exploiting a public health crisis,” she added.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister talks Thursday, October 7, 2021, about why she’s running for governor. (KTUL via virtual interview)

State Superintendent of Schools Joy Hofmeister

Her thread comes hours after Education Secretary Ryan Walters criticized schools for closing as Omicron leaves them short-staffed.

“The first reaction should not be to shut schools down. It is the last resort. Parents are tired and children suffer when administrators act out of fear and not in the best interests of their kids and their future,” Walters tweeted. “I call on schools to use all of their available resources and administrative staff to cover classes to ensure all of our students are given an in-person education option. They should fulfill their obligation to educate our kids in Oklahoma.”

Walters’ tweets were received with considerable criticism. Teachers, coaches, parents, and Democratic lawmakers all filled his replies with outrage.

“Our first reaction should be to do the right thing and lead by example as omicron rages. We must keep schools open and minimize disruption by reducing the spread of the virus,” Hofmeister continued in her Twitter thread. “For the sake of all children and their families, we must take this pandemic seriously.”


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