Union Public Schools Releases Safe Return To School Plan

Wednesday, August 4th 2021, 6:12 pm
By: Jonathan Cooper

TULSA, Oklahoma -

As Union Public Schools prepares to start a new school year, the district administration is once again having to plan school in the midst of a pandemic.

"We really were hoping for a return to normal but with the delta variant of course we're having to make a few alterations in that plan," said Chris Payne, Chief Communications Officer for Union.

On Wednesday, the district released a "Safe Return" plan ahead of school starting on August 18th.

Payne said like last year, they'll step up cleaning practices, encourage physical distancing and offer virtual learning to those who want to stay at home.

One thing they can't do is require masks for teachers and students.

“We're having to operate within the confines of this new law, this new direction," said Payne.

Senate Bill 658, passed by the legislature this year, does not allow local school districts to implement mask mandates unless there is a state of emergency.

Payne said Union is strongly encouraging mask-wearing, but said the law is very clear in what they can and cannot do. The district has also updated its quarantine policy for students with no symptoms.

“It is really going to be up to the parent. If a student or staff has been exposed, then they will need to make the decision on whether or not they send their child to school," said Payne.

Other local districts also have plans in the works.

In a letter to families this week, Tulsa Superintendent Deborah Gist said, "our expectation is that every adult and student - regardless of vaccination status - wears a mask at all times."

In a statement to News on 6, Governor Kevin Stitt’s Communication Director Carly Atchison said, "our expectation is that every school district, including Tulsa Public Schools, will be open for full time, in-person instruction and follow the law which prohibits mask mandates in schools.

You can find Union's Safe Return plan here.