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Broken Arrow Superintendent Says 98 Employees Already Out For COVID-Related Reasons

Superintendent Janet Vinson at a live-streamed meeting of the Broken Arrows Public Schools board on Aug. 10th.

Before students have even returned for in-person learning, the superintendent of Broken Arrow Public Schools said at a board of education meeting on Monday that nearly 100 staff members are not currently at work due to COVID-19.

"Last week alone, we had 33 staff members that tested positive for COVID," Superintendent Janet Vinson said. "What that means is we currently have 98 COVID-related leave of absences. Close to 100. That's a big dent for us. That's difficult for us."

"It's scary. It's very scary," Vinson said.

School administrators recently announced they would delay their in-person start date two weeks due to infection trends.

At a board meeting last month, Vinson recommended and the board approved a plan to return in-person in August, which ran contrary to guidance from Tulsa Health Department Director Dr. Bruce Dart, who said children gathering at school is "dangerous."

"Everyone claims to be an expert. There's no experts in coronavirus," Vinson said at the time. 

At Monday's meeting, board president Steve Allen said he approved of the two-week delay, but said he could not support a long-term plan involving only remote learning, and that parents should be able to choose what's best for their children and the community.

"No one wants anyone to get hurt or be sick or anything, but it's not going away," Allen said of the novel coronavirus.

"Do we just throw our hands up and say we're not going to have school no more, now virtual school's the way to go? We can't do that. If we do it, our public school system is going to fail," Allen said, to applause from members of the public in attendance.

The school district now plans to open for in-person instruction on Sept. 3rd rather than the originally announced date of Aug. 19th.

Chris joined Public Radio Tulsa as a news anchor and reporter in April 2020. He’s a graduate of Hunter College and the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, both at the City University of New York.
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