OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Tutoring has long been out of reach for many families due to time and financial constraints – but Oklahoma City Public Schools is working to ease that burden.

The district is now offering free, 24/7 tutoring to all of its kindergarten through 12th grade students.

COVID-19 has left a lasting impact on everything – and students are no exception – leaving families and educators scrambling for solutions.

“This pandemic has been really damaging and has put everyone behind a little bit on academics and this is a great tool for us to help move the kids forward,” said Neal Kellogg, director of educational technology with Oklahoma City Public Schools. 

That tool – an online 24/7 tutoring service called TutorMe.

It provides audio or video chats, screen sharing and a virtual whiteboard.

Kellogg says the district started using it for its online students last fall – and found success, so now expanding it to its more than 35,000 K-12 students.

“They have over 300 subject levels they’ll tutor students in,” said Kellogg. “So, if a student needs help in math, they can go into TutorMe, find a tutor and get specific assistance.”

In the summer of 2020, OKCPS worked to ensure all students had tablets or laptops – and provided hot spots to those without internet access.

Kellogg says this is an example of how the challenges this pandemic has presented to teachers and students have led to innovation.

“It’s not like the old days where you’re in your class for six hours and then when you leave, if you don’t bring your books home, you don’t have access,” said Kellogg. 

Now this free tutoring – providing a resource to families that previously could not afford it or fit it into their schedules.

“It’s really changed the dynamic of education,” Kellogg said. 

OKCPS will watch the usage and effectiveness of TutorMe – and likely keep it for at least the next two years.

The district is paying for it with federal stimulus dollars for unfinished learning during the pandemic.