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Tulsa Public Schools Confirms Deaths Of Two District Employees Who Tested Positive For COVID-19

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Two Tulsa Public Schools employees -- a bus driver and a support staff member -- have died after testing positive for COVID-19, according to an internal district email obtained by Public Radio Tulsa and confirmed by a TPS spokesperson.

"I am writing to share the sad news that we have lost two members of Team Tulsa this week: a support professional at Hale High School and a bus driver from our Transportation team," Deputy Superintendent Paula Shannon wrote in the Thursday email. "While we do not have confirmation of the cause of death for either of these team members, we are aware that each had tested positive for COVID-19."

"It is painful to lose any member of our team, but I know that it is also scary to think about the possibility that COVID-19 could have played a role. Even as we grieve, I know that you and your teams may have questions and concerns," Shannon said. "This reaction is understandable; we live in a different world now, and these are concerns and conversations that we must have.

"In the case of our bus driver, we have completed contact tracing and there was no close contact exposure with any of our team members or students. Our support professional developed symptoms over the Thanksgiving break and was not in the building during the infectious period."

"The leaders of the affected teams are in touch with the families, and I know you will join me in keeping these families in your thoughts and prayers. Please continue to be safe: wear your mask, wash your hands, and watch your distance. We have a responsibility to do all that we can to keep each other and our community healthy. Take care of yourself too: these are hard times for all of us," Shannon wrote.

TPS spokesperson Lauren Partain Barber on Friday morning confirmed the contents of Shannon's email, and said that would be all the information the district would be releasing at this time. 

Michael Angelo, an electrician at the district, was the first known TPS employee to pass away with COVID-19 as a cause of death in October. Partain Barber said, to her knowledge, the two individuals announced this week are the only other district employees to have passed away after testing positive. She noted the causes of death have not been confirmed.

According to the TPS website, in the week ending Dec. 3, 42 staff members districtwide were confirmed to have tested positive for the virus.