Tulsa Public Schools began its school year on Monday, kicking off at least nine weeks of distance learning necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic.
Many school sites were staffed Monday by teachers and administrators distributing computers, wireless hot-spots, printed materials, and other learning tools to students and families.
Superintendent Dr. Deborah Gist said she knows this is a challenge for everyone.
"I'm sorry that we weren't able to get our numbers down in Tulsa. I'm sorry that we weren't able to find a different solution for this first nine weeks, because I know the responsibility and the burden that places on your shoulders with all your other responsibilities," Gist said to parents in a Facebook Live video posted Monday morning.
"It is not ideal, and we want it to be over, but I think we have to make a decision to just keep doing our very best to thrive in this environment, and to tell ourselves that we can do hard things," Gist said.
TPS is one of the districts that took the recommendation of Tulsa Health Department Dr. Bruce Dart not to resume in-person learning due to the severity of Tulsa County's COVID-19 outbreak. Some other area public school districts, like Union and Broken Arrow, have chosen to allow students to return in-person, with an option for virtual learning for families who choose to keep their children away from gatherings during the pandemic.
On Thursday, Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum recounted that a state official told him, of schools returning to in-person classes, that "this is like having a super-spreader event every single day in almost every community around the state of Oklahoma, and that presents a tremendous amount of risk."
Oklahoma City Public Schools students also returned Monday, also with at least nine weeks of distance learning.