Tulsa Public Schools, Parents Prepare For Possibility Of Extensive Distance Learning

Tuesday, July 28th 2020, 9:13 pm
By: Erick Payne

TULSA, Okla. -

School districts across Green Country are trying to boost their virtual programs ahead of the first day of class.

Tulsa Public Schools leaders are recommending the school board approve distance-learning for the first 9 weeks. It comes with technology challenges they're working on ironing out. Tulsa Public Schools staff said they're working to get more families Chromebooks and internet hotspots.

Parents said they're anxious about having all the right gear for their kids to learn.

Jazz Bayliss's kids are in pre-K, 1st and 2nd grade.

TPS has recommended that all classes be held virtually for the first 9 weeks, which Bayliss is okay with, since one of her daughters has cancer. However, she’s still nervous.

"I'm anxious to see what happens. Chromebooks are difficult, and I'm going to be teaching a Pre-K'er how to use a Chromebook,” said Bayliss.

Bayliss is still waiting for their Chromebooks from TPS.

TPS said they have tens of thousands of them, including 21,000 that were handed out in the spring. They're working on figuring out how many each school needs, and they're ordering another 16,000 next month.

Deborah Gist, TPS Superintendent, said, "So we will be able to make sure that our students all have a device, we worked hard to do that last spring, we'll make sure they all have their laptop available for them"

Another hurdle is internet access, especially as many TPS parents said they have spotty connections.

Niki said "We do have internet, cox, but it has been very spotty lately and doing distance learning we are going to have to look at changing internet providers to keep up with our need. I am the PTA president at my daughter's school. I worry that other kids in the school will have trouble getting internet or a hotspot."

Superintendent Deborah Gist said they have 2,000 hotspots and have requested 10,000 as part of a state grant.

"This is going to be a different experience than what families went through in the spring,” said Gist.

The TPS School Board will vote on Monday whether to approve starting with distance learning. If they vote against it, district staff said they will come up with another option.