TULSA, Okla. — Tulsa Public School Superintendent Dr. Deborah Gist announced starting September 7, all students will wear masks in any TPS building.
The announcement comes after the school district completed its first full of classes and in-person learning. Gist said a large part of the decision is due to the recent surge of COVID cases in the area.
All TPS staff will wear masks inside TPS school buildings starting Aug. 30. Gist said this is a temporary strengthening of their policies.
"It is critical that we do everything possible to keep our students and teachers together, safely, and in-person in our schools, and masks are a critical way to sustain the safe, in-school learning experience that our students need and deserve," Gist wrote in a letter to parents..
The school district is continuing to work with the Tulsa Health Department for any current or future health and safety guidelines. Those who have been medically approved for exemption do not have to follow the new mask policy.
READ Gist's full letter:
Dear parents and families,
We had a wonderful start to our school year! Thank you for the role you played in helping us kick off our year safely and productively.
As you are aware, in Tulsa Public Schools, we expect all students and team members to wear masks while in our buildings. This has been the case since we started school, and I am proud that the vast majority of our team members and students are keeping each other safe by wearing masks each day.
Now that we have completed our first full week of classes and given the current surge of COVID cases, we are working with our team to understand how to continue improving our safety protocols. Using feedback from our team, we have developed and want to share with you a temporary strengthening of the mask expectation we have in place throughout our district. It is critical that we do everything possible to keep our students and teachers together, safely, and in person in our schools, and masks are a critical way to sustain the safe, in-school learning experience that our students need and deserve.
For now, while our city is experiencing a surge in COVID-19 infection rates with the highly contagious Delta variant, our expectations for mask wearing are as follows:
We will continue to work closely with the Tulsa Health Department over the coming weeks to ensure that our safety practices stay tightly aligned with guidance from public health and medical professionals. We will also continue to listen to feedback from our school teams to make sure they have the clarity and support they need to keep your children safe.
- Effective Monday, August 30: All staff will wear masks while inside our buildings. The only exception will be for individuals who have a documented and approved medical exemption.
- Effective Tuesday, September 7: All students will wear masks while inside our buildings. The only exceptions are for students who have a documented and approved medical exemption or a district-approved exemption based on the educational or the social and emotional needs of the student. During the next week, we will be sharing details with our school communities regarding the specific expectations and possible exemptions regarding mask wearing.
Thank you for doing your part to protect our children and our city.
Deborah A. Gist
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