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Tulsa Public Schools announces changes to COVID-19 policies

Tulsa Public Schools
Posted at 4:58 PM, Jan 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-04 14:04:36-05

TULSA, Okla. — Tulsa Public Schools sent a letter to parents on Monday announcing changes to the district's COVID-19 safety protocols as students prepare to return to class.

The letter from TPS Superintendent Dr. Deborah Gist lays out the new guidelines and recommendations for masking, quarantines and vaccinations.

"As I shared before the break, we are continuing to work closely with public health and medical professionals to monitor COVID-19 infection and vaccination rates in our city, county, and state," Dr. Gist wrote.

MORE >>> Students return to the classroom as COVID-19 cases surge

Already some schools won’t be coming back from break to in-person learning. Monday was a professional development day for educators and three schools determined they won’t have the staffing to go back to in-person learning tomorrow. Those schools are Rogers, McLain, and Central.

Students at these schools will be conducting virtual learning for at least Tuesday. Then it’s day-by-day.

The letter to parents suggests they check back each day by 2 pm.

Tulsa’s superintendent also says more schools could move to virtual learning Tuesday morning.

“Now we may find out in the morning if we have people calling in and we will have to see what substitutes we are able to get and sometimes unfortunately those decisions do happen closer to the time school starts," Dr. Gist said.

She adds they will do everything they can to keep students in person but they do have more people who are getting sick right now.

With the omicron variant surging, they did make new polices for masks.

Dr. Gist says they will have masking "expectations" for elementary students and they are now "strongly recommending" masks at secondary schools and district offices.

She says the reason masks for the younger kids are expected vs recommended is partly to do with the fact that there are students in elementary school not eligible for the COVID vaccine.

Here are the latest safety practices included in Monday's letter which will be effective starting Tuesday, Jan. 4:

Masking

  • We strongly recommend that all adults and children - regardless of vaccination status - wear masks indoors and outdoors when in the presence of other people. 

    • At elementary schools: our masking expectation will remain in place. 
    • At middle schools, junior high schools, and co-located middle and high schools: we will continue to recommend masking, but it will not be an expectation.
    • At district office sites: we will continue to recommend masking, but it will not be an expectation.  
  • We will continue to comply with the federal mandate for masking on public transportation conveyances, so all riders and drivers will wear masks traveling to and from school.

Layered safety practices

  • When possible, we will maintain safe distancing.
  • Adults entering buildings will continue check-in at welcome stations and complete a temperature check; staff will continue using our screen-and-go application.

School volunteers

  • We will continue to welcome our community volunteers - including parents and guardians - into our buildings. 
  • We ask that all volunteers follow our safety protocols, including our masking recommendations and expectations.

Quarantine and isolation

  • Starting Monday, Jan. 3, we will align our isolation and quarantine practices with the CDC’s recent update of the recommended isolation and quarantine period. 
  • Individuals who have tested positive should isolate for five days. If they are asymptomatic or their symptoms are resolving (without fever for 24 hours), individuals may return to school followed by five days of wearing a mask when around others. 
  • For individuals who have been exposed, we will continue to not require quarantining. Students and team members may choose to self-quarantine if they have been exposed. 
  • Symptomatic or positive students or team members should stay at home and monitor their symptoms. 
  • We will continue to share counts of confirmed positive cases on a weekly basis. 

Vaccination

  • We will continue working with our local health partners to offer free clinics for vaccination and booster shots. We know that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective in reducing the likelihood of hospitalization due to COVID-19. 
  • We are hosting our next free COVID-19 vaccination clinic this Saturday, Jan. 8 from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Visit www.tulsaschools.org/vaccine to schedule your appointment today.
  • If you are not able to attend this weekend’s clinic, please visit www.vaccines.gov/search to find other vaccination sites near you.

"We all play a critical role in keeping our community safe and keeping our teachers and students together in-person in their classrooms," Gist says.

"Vaccinations and mask wearing are critical to safety and to in-person learning."

See the full letter here.


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