“Return to Learn” Sapulpa Public Schools prepares to open with new initiative


UPDATE—Creek County has moved to Orange this week. Please see the updated procedures for Orange Level 1 in the “Return To Learn” manual at the end of this story.

UPDATE 08-01-2020: Creek County is now in the Orange Level, which changes how SPS would operate. See the link to the full procedure manual at the end of this story.

In their “Return to Learn” initiative released on Saturday, Sapulpa Public Schools has created a set of safety protocols based on the color-coded phase system being used by the state’s Health Department.

According to the book released by the administration, in-person instruction will be allowed, but because Creek County is currently in the Low-Risk (Yellow) Phase, face coverings will be required for all students, teachers, and staff. The material states that SPS will provide one mask per student.

This state map, updated as of July 23rd, shows Creek County in the Low-Risk (Yellow) Phase of the Oklahoma COVID-19 Alert System. Sapulpa Public Schools say as long as the county remains in the yellow phase, masks will have to be worn by students and staff at Sapulpa Public Schools. Graphic from coronavirus.health.ok.gov

In the Yellow Phase, Pre-K and K students are recommended to wear face coverings, while students in grades 1-12, all staff, and school visitors will be required to wear them. Face coverings may be removed at the discretion of the teacher if social distancing can be met in the classroom.

Creek County is currently at 11.17 cases per 100,000 and would need to be at more than 14.39 cases per 100,000 to be moved to the Orange Phase, which in the handbook, is split into Level 1 and Level 2.

Level 1 (14.39 to 24.99 cases) would require face coverings for everyone and the district would prepare to transition to district learning. At this point, all extra-curricular activities would halt unless social distancing could be achieved.

In Orange Level 2 (25 to 49.99 cases), the district would require transitioning to distance learning while allowing 25% of the students to remain in the buildings, with Special Education students first, followed by others. At this point, no extra-curricular activities would be permitted.

Should Creek County reach Red Level (cases of 50 or more), all the previous restrictions would remain, except only 15% of the students would be allowed to remain, again, with Special Education students first.

Superintendent Rob Armstrong says the plan is based on months of research and watching as the pandemic has unfolded across the nation, and particularly how it has affected Oklahoma and Creek County.

“We have spent the summer gathering information, collaborating with internal and external groups, reviewing guidance from the State Department of Education, and closely monitoring the current health climate to make sure we are making the most informed decisions as you choose the best course for your child’s education,” Armstrong says.

The Return to Learn book states that neither the staff nor the school personnel would be conducting temperature screenings on students prior getting on a bus or entering a school building. Rather, SPS wants “all families to partner with the district” in monitoring the health of students and families. As part of the plan, there is a procedure regarding how to handle when your child is sick or has a fever, or what to do when you or someone you know has been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, is being tested, or might have been exposed. There are specifics regarding how “close contact” is defined.

There are significant changes to school operations, especially regarding drop-off and pickup, and how to handle back-to-school events such as Meet Your Teacher Night.

Instruction Options

Earlier this summer, SPS announced three options for student instruction: traditional, virtual, and hybrid. The traditional option is assuming in-person instruction with the plans in place laid out in the Return to Learn initiative. The virtual option is available for Pre-K through 12th grade and requires at-home guidance and support. The last option is only available to grades 8 through 12, and includes those who would attend Career Tech or Tulsa Community College.

Students will return to school on August 20th and are being encouraged to “Think Green. Act Green.” to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
“Our plan is not perfect,” Armstrong says. “No plan is perfect. In putting our plan together, we had one goal in mind: provide as safe and healthy an environment as we can while also providing the high-quality education that your child deserves.”

You can find the full Return to Learn initiative here.

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Micah Choquette

Micah Choquette

Micah is the owner/Editor-In-Chief of Sapulpa Times and passionate about telling the everyday stories in the town that we love. You can find him on Twitter at @meetmicah or email him at news@sapulpatimes.com.

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