Two Tulsa-area school districts made changes to their January school calendars to avoid a potential post-holiday rise in COVID-19 cases.
Jenks and Bixby public schools pushed back returns to in-person classes but in different ways. Jenks will have grades seven to 12 in virtual classes through the week of Jan. 8, while Bixby extended its winter break for all students through the same week.
Jenks Public Schools spokesman Rob Loeber said the decision has its roots in a similar decision to delay in-person classes after Thanksgiving.
“We had a buffer week that we did after Thanksgiving break where we kept our seventh to 12th graders in distance learning,” Loeber said. “As a result of that we were able to save quite a few people from having to quarantine, see our numbers go up and maintaining our staffing capacity.
“There’s going to be people traveling; there’s going to be people going out of state. And that’s probably going to cause more cases; it’s going to cause numbers to go up. If we can anticipate that a little bit and build in that buffer week, … then it benefits us in the long run.”
In a statement posted to the district’s website, Bixby Superintendent Rob Miller said the delay will give families and staff a 10-day window after New Year’s Eve to isolate before classes resume.
“Given the current and anticipated expansion in COVID case numbers after the holidays, it would be problematic to bring students back to in-person instruction during the first week of January after many families have traveled out of state and/or celebrated in large gatherings over the break,” Miller said in a statement.
“We are also hopeful that this period away from school will assist in mitigating the spread of COVID in our community during this uncertain time.”
The change will push Bixby’s last day of school to May 26, the Wednesday before Memorial Day.
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