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TPS discusses school plans with parents

Posted at 9:37 PM, Jul 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-23 17:32:23-04

TULSA, Okla. — What to do about school this fall?

About 1,000 Tulsa Public Schools parents joined Superintendent Deborah Gist and other staff to discuss that in a virtual meeting Wednesday night. TPS went over the opening plan so far, but nothing is set in stone as of now. Once a decision is made, there could still be changes.

READ MORE: Tulsa Public Schools announces 2020-21 school calendar with changes due to COVID-19

“Even if we’re back in person, at any moment we could have a school that goes onto distance learning just overnight because we find out about cases that require that," Gist said.

In a letter to parents Wednesday night, Gist, along with the board president and vice president, said if a decision was made today, they would recommend school not be held in person.

However, there are currently three options for school plus the virtual learning academy. There will either be in-person school, distance learning, or staggered attendance. If there is any in-person schooling, Wednesdays will always be distance learning days.

READ MORE: Tulsa Public Schools to launch virtual academy

“To be able to keep the level of quality up, our teachers need time to do that well," Gist said. "It also gives us time to do extra support for students who have fallen behind during this time.”

A poll between parents in the meeting showed a near split between 100 percent in-person and staggered.

For that option, students would be split into two groups based on their last name. They would go to school in-person two days a week and do distance learning three days a week. One of parents biggest concerns with this is splitting up families, but TPS said they want to keep households together.

“We’re not interested in defining a household for you," said Andrea Castañeda, chief innovation officer for TPS. "However, you define your household, we want to keep you together if that’s what makes the most sense for you.”

Parents polled mostly agreed that masks should be required. Many also said they want social distancing in buses and schools and would like lunch in the classroom. Dr. Gist said masks will be in Tulsa Public Schools. Families are encouraged to start wearing them now.

“The more that families start to get students used to them over the summer, the more they are introduced in increments so that they’re not so surprising, the easier this transition will be for students," Castañeda said.

The board will vote on Aug. 3 to decide how school will happen this year. Registration for the virtual learning academy opens Friday. Click here to learn more about TPS options.

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