Every month, EPIC Superintendent Bart Banfield explores topics related to education, learning, leadership and more.

We’re All In This Together

In times of crisis and uncertainty, I am reminded of the words of Mr. Rogers, who urged us to “look for the helpers” – those people who show up during critical times to lend a hand and reassure us that there is hope.

The fluidity of the COVID-19 situation means each of us has a responsibility to be a helper as new details continue to unfold, especially when it comes to the safety and education of our children.

The vast majority of EPIC’s approximately 30,000 students don’t attend a regular classroom setting. Further, the ability to meet virtually with their teachers means our school is in a strong position to help “flatten the curve” when it comes to limiting interpersonal contact and further spread of the virus. However, we take this crisis seriously and have taken extraordinary measures to help our families, faculty and staff weather this storm. 

For those in the Oklahoma City and Tulsa areas, we are distributing meals to our students who regularly attend one of our Blended Learning facilities. We are marshalling resources and gathering supplemental resources to ensure that our students don’t fall behind. We are tapping into the myriad of unique distance learning opportunities that have become available in recent weeks and distributing those through our social media outlets. Also, we are in constant contact with the State Department of Education, asking questions and getting direction as to how the decisions they make will affect our families and the instruction we provide them.

We have complied fully with the State Department of Education’s school closure directive that is in place until at least April 6, after which, virtual instruction may continue. I have heard countless stories from EPIC educators about how much they miss their students and how eager they are to resume regular coursework with the students on their rosters.

Here’s the part where you can be a helper.

I’m asking all of our families to stay engaged with what’s happening in their communities. Many local decisions are being made based on the “community exposure” benchmark. If there is an outbreak in your area, listen closely to the recommendations of local government officials and law enforcement.

Similarly, I’m asking our families to be vigilant about staying in touch with EPIC. Log onto our social media pages, visit our website, check your email and remain in close contact with your teacher. The fast-paced nature of this situation means that new information can become available very quickly and we are pushing out that information to you as soon as it becomes available. Knowledge is power.

It’s also vital during this time of social distancing, that everyone does their best to maintain a solid routine each day. Continuity is key to learning and there are tons of options available dedicated to this topic, including one of my favorite resources, khanacademy.org, which has free sample schedules that support home routine during this time of social isolation.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, please maintain a strong regimen of self-care. Limit social interactions, exercise, clean and disinfect surfaces (including laptops and other electronics), wash your hands, and above all, try to maintain a positive mental focus; try to find some joy in each day.

This is a time when we must all pull together and help one another be safe and healthy. And together, we will be alright.

Dare Greatly,