Tulsa Public Schools’ superintendent Deborah Gist listens during a TPS community meeting concerning the coming $20 million shortfall, inside the McLain High School cafeteria, on Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019. CORY YOUNG/for the Tulsa World

Tulsa Public Schools wants to know whether students are prepared to learn from home in case the district must resort to remote instruction this fall.

Administrators are asking parents to verify whether their children have internet access and a home computer so those who are lacking may receive a Chromebook before school begins Aug. 31.

This week, families began receiving letters with information about their children’s schedules in the event that the district implements a staggered attendance model to start the school year. This would involve two days of in-person learning each week for students and three days of distance learning.

The Tulsa school board will decide on Aug. 3 whether to start the year in person, through distance learning or a combination of both.

“We are prepared for the possibility of beginning our year in any of the three possible models and will likely need to shift between them based on community spread of the coronavirus,” Superintendent Deborah Gist said. “Our staggered option would allow us to provide some in-person instruction while creating space for social distancing between students and their peers in their classrooms, school buildings and on our buses.”

In addition to providing potential student schedules, district officials are aiming to provide Chromebook computers to students to ensure that they are able to participate in distance learning as necessary. The devices are funded through the school district’s 2015 bond package.

Thousands of students reportedly received Chromebooks last spring after schools transitioned to distance learning to finish the 2019-20 school year. The probability of remote instruction returning this year — at least in some capacity — has made them necessary again.

“We know that there is a significant digital divide in our city: One-third of our families do not have reliable internet access at home,” Gist said. “We have plans to supplement access, and we are working closely with community partners and the city of Tulsa to further improve internet access for Tulsans. This information from parents will help us prepare to match computers and internet access to our students who need them most.”

Additionally, parents are urged to provide updated email addresses and phone numbers due to the increasing reliance of electronic communication to provide updates throughout the school year.

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Kyle Hinchey


Twitter: @kylehinchey

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