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TPS teacher discusses mask expectation, start of new school year

teacher stress
Posted at 8:33 PM, Aug 31, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-31 23:55:42-04

TULSA, Okla. — Tulsa Public Schools teachers are now expected to wear masks inside and outside TPS buildings. The new guidelines are meant to help reduce 127 confirmed COVID cases among the district.

"We’re kind of going through this again for the first time," said Sommer Lyons, a pre-Kindergarten teacher at McKinley Elementary. "We were not in school, in person, in Tulsa during this time last year."

Teachers and students want to stay in the classroom for the entire school year, and Lyons is no different. The pre-K teacher is one of the TPS teachers now masking up at the front of the class and outside on the school grounds.

"I think it's an excellent thing for us," she said. "We do have 100% compliance."

However, Lyons said, that was not the case before the new district-wide guidelines kicked in on Monday.

At the start of the school year, Superintendent Deborah Gist and TPS leadership recommended but did not require mask-wearing in schools. Uncovered staff faces among unvaccinated students at McKinley did not sit well with Lyons.

"Watching a colleague making a choice against what we’ve set as an expectation, it did make me feel a little uneasy," she said.

That instinctive worry hits home for Lyons.

"I have a family members, my nephew who is 12, home with COVID, right now," she said.

It follows her to the classroom where she knows the Delta variant does not discriminate.

“We all experienced a different kind of learning last year and we’re better and wiser for it, but we do know that the best thing for most students is to wear the mask," Lyons said.

Lyons said her students are already on top of wearing their masks at school. Tulsa Public Schools will start expecting all of its students to wear masks beginning Tuesday, September 7.

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