by Bailey McBride
As more and more students return to school both from home and in physical buildings, parents and business leaders are left with many questions about how to balance the new normal in education with employee needs and constraints. In order to help the community find solutions collaboratively, ImpactTulsa and the City of Tulsa joined forces to lead a series of collaborative calls for business leaders in preparation for the school year to examine how they might support the community and their employees in light of school reopening changes.
The series was intended to provide a collaborative space for business leaders to:
- Discover pathways for organizations to support their employees in navigating childcare and work responsibilities;
- Develop ideas on internal organizational responses to the untraditional school year; and
- Identify perceived blind spots/barriers/challenges to solutions.
Mayor G.T. Bynum kicked off the first collaboration call on August 7 to spark ideas and inspire those present to collaborate on sharing ideas, concerns, and questions as we prepare for a school year during a global pandemic. Local superintendents and school administrators joined business leaders across all sectors in Tulsa to discuss their needs and some of the best solutions they have developed so far for balancing the needs of parents with the demands of the workplace. Dr. Deborah Gist, Superintendent of Tulsa Public Schools, was also able to share resources and rationale around many of the decisions that their district has made in the past month as school leadership grapples with how to safely return to school and provide opportunity for students and staff alike. This first call laid the foundation of the series by allowing participants to break into groups and discuss their organizations’ respective responses to the spring shutdowns and initial thinking following the Tulsa Public School’s August 3 board meeting.
The second call in the series, “Envisioning Solutions,” featured a panel discussion focused on business leaders varied approaches to accommodating employees and challenges/barriers due to COVID-19 and school re-entry. Panelists included Amy Skeans, Vice President of Operations at Bama, Bailey Siegfried, Vice President of Culture, Communications, IT, HR at Nordam, Denise Reid, Community Relations at Tulsa Area Human Resources Association and at Key Personnel, Consultant and Tim Lyons, Chief Executive Officer at TTCU Federal Credit Union. Atendees walked away from the panel with examples of concrete interventions and policies companies have leveraged/will leverage as school begins to accommodate working parents and a better understanding of the challenges, company needs, and other barriers to accommodating parents/caregivers, including equitable solutions (ex. undocumented parents or sole caregivers).
The final call in the series, “Chart the Course,” provided key updates from around the city for business leaders with information and resources for childcare, internet access, food resources, the City of Tulsa’s Financial Navigator Program, and guidelines for when employees can safely return to work along with a Q&A portion with Dr. Bruce Dart of the Tulsa Health Department. One of the biggest take-aways from the final call was the Center for Disease Control recommendations Dr. Dart shared for employers on what to look for and how to handle potential COVID cases within their workplaces.
CDC recommendations from Dr. Dart:
- Once you experience symptoms or test positive, quarantine for 10 days and return to work once fever-free for 24 hours without fever-reducing medication.
- A negative test result should not be required to return to work
- If you are exposed to someone who has tested positive, quarantine for 14 days. If you choose to get tested, wait 5-7 days before taking a test. If positive, quarantine 10 days from a positive test date. If negative, quarantine the remainder of the 14 days from the day of exposure.
During the calls, more topics of interest to the group surfaced, so additional opportunities for collaboration will likely be provided in the future. For now, here are some resources for business leaders that were provided during the series:
Hunger Free Oklahoma
- Let SNAP fill the GAP – access to SNAP resources to help families
- COVID-19 Food Resource page
- Help students and families stay connected to grocery assistance
Immediate food resources for Aug 24th-28th
Financial Navigator Program through the City of Tulsa
Additional Resources collected: