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Union, Sand Springs Move Some Grades to Distance Learning through Thanksgiving Due to COVID

Oklahoma Watch

Union and Sand Springs public schools are the latest districts to move some students to distance learning plans because of impacts of COVID-19.

Starting Thursday, Union students in grades six through 12 and at Boevers Elementary will move to distance learning. Also on Thursday, Sand Springs secondary students in grades six through 12 will go to distance learning. Both districts currently plan to bring those students back on Nov. 30.

In a notice to families posted online, Union said school can't be safely conducted for those students because of a shortage of substitute teachers and bus drivers. As of Wednesday, Union reported a total of 861 students and staff either in isolation because of a positive coronavirus test or in quarantine after being in close contact with someone who had a positive test. More than 500 were at secondary school sites, and 77 were at Boevers Elementary.

In a letter to parents, Sand Springs Superintendent Sherry Durkee said rising COVID numbers have made staffing classrooms challenging.

"Last week we saw a significant increase. This weekthose numbers have continued to increase to a level in which our staff and students’ health and safetymust be protected to the greatest extent possible," Durkee said.

Sand Springs' Nov. 6 COVID-19 update showed 13.6% of students and staff at Charles Boyd Middle School and 16.3% at Charles Page High School and Freshman Academy are currently infected or in quarantine.

Sand Springs has held in-person classes since the school year began in August. Families were able to choose an all-virtual option.

Both districts will continue running buses for students who attend programs at Tulsa Tech campuses. Breakfast and lunch programs will also continue, with details to be announced.

Broken Arrow and Bixby public schools also recently announced some students would be moving to distance learning through Thanksgiving.

Broken Arrow announced Nov. 6 all ninth through 12th grade students would go to distance learning starting this past Monday. On Tuesday, students at Centennial and Sequoyah middle schools joined them.

Bixby announced Nov. 5 all ninth through 12th graders would go to distance learning starting this past Monday. The district added North Elementary students this past Sunday.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.
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