Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister address the media during a press conference March 12, 2020 about COVID-19 and the potential for school closures.

Robby Korth / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma state superintendent says COVID-19 reinforces need for digital access

Hofmeister wants internet access to become the norm to ease digital learning

  • Robby Korth

Courtesy Oklahoma State Department of Education

State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister leads the Oklahoma State Board of Education meeting last week to vote on closing schools for the remainder of the 2020 spring semester. The closures were necessitated to combat COVID-19.

Joy Hofmeister wants the internet in the home of every Oklahoma student.

In an interview Monday, she said the COVID-19 closures have exposed an equity gap between students who have home internet access and those who don’t.

“I want every one of our Oklahoma students to have access to a computer and internet access at home,” she said. “And I won’t rest until that’s done.”

About a third of people in Oklahoma lack access to broadband.

But alternate ways to get internet are out there and she said she’ll leverage those to get access to students. She said she plans to work with internet service providers and leverage emergency funds from the federal government to get it done.

The State Department of Education is currently surveying districts to figure out the needs  of its students statewide.

The best way to educate students while their schools are closed is through online learning, Hofmeister said. 

“And that can’t happen without connectivity so let’s make it happen for all kids and be prepared for the summer or the fall with or without a pandemic,” she said.