Gist: TPS Not Expecting Distance Learning to be 'Super-Smooth'

Mar 25, 2020

Credit TPS

Tulsa Public Schools officials have been talking to other districts about their experiences switching to distance learning ahead of Wednesday's decision by the State Board of Education to keep Oklahoma schools closed the rest of the year.

"It’s not going to be super-smooth, I think is the way to summarize what we’ve heard from some of the very best districts in the country and what they’ve done," said TPS Superintendent Deborah Gist. "It’s been challenging. And so, that’s one of the main messages we’ve heard from them is, 'Be prepared to solve a lot of problems.'"

TPS is working on a way for students to check out computers to help with their distance learning. Gist said there are some challenges, like missing power cords because computers were pushed from classroom to classroom on a dedicated cart, but not every student is going to need a device to learn.

"We don’t need to solve this specific problem necessarily for every single child in the city in order to have the ability to finish the school year remotely," Gist said.

Juniors and seniors will have priority in getting computers. Gist said families without internet access can get up to 60 days for free through a partnership with Cox.

Gist said while there are instructional kinks to work out before distance learning starts April 6, TPS is doing well with its grab-and-go meal program, which will have to continue the rest of the school year. More than 20,000 meals made it to students over Monday and Tuesday.