Oklahoma newspaper apologizes for retracted April Fools' story

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An Oklahoma newspaper apologized Thursday for a "poor attempt” at an April Fools' prank disguised as a coronavirus story.

The retracted article from the Sapulpa Times claimed that all students in one Tulsa-area school district would have to repeat their grade level next year because “'Sapulpa is dedicated to providing a FULL education, and nothing is going to change that,'" the prank story claimed the Sapulpa School District said.

All schools in the state have been closed through the rest of the year to help slow the spread of the virus.

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Micah Choquette, the owner and editor of the Sapulpa Times, called the story “a poor attempt at an April Fools’ joke that has turned much more sour than we anticipated,” in an apology letter on the publication’s website.

"In hindsight, publishing the story was a mistake and the joke was not funny to a lot of the anxious parents and teachers who are dealing with preparing for distance learning next week," Choquette wrote. "We sincerely apologize for any grief or stress the story may have caused."

The joke story was published on Facebook but has since been deleted.

The Sapulpa School District, which had no prior knowledge of the prank, said they started getting calls and messages of concern over what they called an "ill-advised" story.

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“As soon as we were made aware of it, we contacted the publication and asked that the post and article be removed,” the district wrote on Facebook.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.