With Tulsa Public Schools pushing students’ in-person return back to late March, a local nonprofit aims to continue partnerships that set up low- and no-cost child care.
The Opportunity Project partnered with churches, community centers and other organizations in October to stand up almost two dozen sites where students could go for full days of supervised distance learning with personal protective equipment and social distancing, giving parents who may not be able to take time off the ability to keep working.
Opportunity Project Executive Director Caroline Shaw said the program has been a big help for students who haven’t been able to be in their classrooms.
"They have the opportunity to socialize with other young people, they have developmentally appropriate activities. It’s safe. They have nutritious meals, and also they are able to maintain their social and emotional wellness, which is something that I think is really challenging for all of us right now," Shaw said.
Shaw said they’re going to do their best to keep those programs going with last week's news Tulsa Public Schools students will not go back to their classrooms until at least March 22.
"It’s incredibly trying for young people, and it’s really, really difficult for families. So, we are hopeful that resources continue to flow from a variety of sources back to these youth-serving organizations so that they continue to do the work that they’re doing," Shaw said.
Tulsa County gave The Opportunity Project $1.4 million in coronavirus relief funds in October for the daycare programs. Federal legislation has extended the deadline for relief money to be spent to the end of 2021.
People looking to volunteer or donate resources like school supplies can visit the Tulsa Area United Way's COVID resource portal. People in need of assistance can find it there, or they can turn to The Opportunity Project website.