Tulsa Public Schools teams up with United Way, The Opportunity Project to provide relief for families during distance learning | Education

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Tulsa Public Schools has partnered with two local organizations to offer an online resource to connect families to child care services and other basic needs during distance learning.

The school district collaborated with The Opportunity Project and the Tulsa Area United Way to launch an online portal where businesses and community groups can share details of support options, care sites, and donations of food and other items. Families can find this information and locate services at COVIDKidCareResources.tauw.org.

Superintendent Deborah Gist said the COVID Kid Care Portal, which premiered Wednesday, was created in response to a desperate need in the community for resources due to the ongoing pandemic. TPS plans to spend at least the first nine weeks of the 2020-21 school year in distance learning, meaning many families are in need of child care and other assistance while they work.

“We know that this time is challenging for all of our families and students, and those families who are already furthest away from opportunity are at additional risk when school buildings are closed,” Gist said. “Having the community come together in a collective effort to ensure families have options for care and students have access to high-quality learning opportunities, meals and distance learning support is critically important.”

Gist said her district is not seeking to replicate the school experience through these day care resources, which involve a much smaller group of students and adults joined together at a given time.

The Opportunity Project Executive Director Caroline Shaw said remote learning, while important for maintaining the health and safety of students, will cause some families to have to decide between working and caring for their children.

Shaw said the goal of this online portal is to prevent those families from having to make that choice.

The COVID Kid Care Portal is modeled after a similar online platform created two years ago to help families during the statewide teacher walkout.

“Just like with the teacher walkout in 2018, it’s going to take the entire community, the faith community and nonprofit organizations, everyone coming together to be able to support young people who really need a place to go,” she said.

In addition to being a single stop for accessing resources, Shaw said the portal also presents an opportunity for people to provide those resources and look out for the most vulnerable in their community.

“I think so many people have felt helpless during this time and not known exactly how they can be of assistance,” she said. “This is a great way to do that.”

Alison Anthony, president and CEO of Tulsa Area United Way, urged community members, businesses, nonprofits and churches to access the online portal if they have resources that can be used to assist teachers, children or families.

“Please go and, first and foremost, let us know how you can help,” Anthony said, “if you have a location and you’re an organization or if you have food or other resources.”

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