Irving Middle School will return to in-person learning Tuesday after pivoting to remote learning Monday.
About 20 of Irving’s staff and faculty called out sick for Monday over the weekend, prompting the school’s principal to close the site on Monday and put students into remote learning for the day. Irving reported a COVID-19 case over the weekend that has sent the school’s administrative and counseling teams into a 14-day quarantine.
Neither a letter to parents from Irving Principal Jonathan Atchley nor Norman Public Schools, on request, could confirm the identity of the positive individual. With three administrators and the schools’ counselors out, Irving will be receiving assistance from district administrators and staff from other school sites, according to NPS.
Atchley’s letter to parents over the weekend noted that the school closure was “due to the amount of teachers who have elected to call in sick and get tested for the virus, although they were not identified as close contacts during the contact tracing process.”
Multiple teachers at Irving told The Transcript Monday they are concerned the district has not contacted everyone who was in close contact with the positive individual last week, and that many of them wanted to be positive they were not sick themselves before returning to school in person this week.
The district released a letter Sunday from Holly Nevels, associate superintendent and chief human resource officer with NPS, requiring that all faculty who called out sick Monday be tested for COVID-19 and share their results with the district in order to receive their paid leave day. According to the letter, if faculty did not get tested at local facility IMMY Labs in a certain time frame on Monday and submit their results to NPS’ personnel office, they could face unpaid leave moving forward.
“We absolutely understand the legitimate anxiety this pandemic has caused for our teachers and staff,” a district spokesperson told The Transcript Monday. “Although Irving teachers were not identified as close contacts to the positive COVID-19 case identified at the school, we recognize that many had concerns, which is why we worked to alleviate their anxiety and transition to remote learning Monday so they could be tested for the virus. This allows them to receive a test today without having to take their own leave. It was also important to share details of school personnel policies during this time to ensure teachers and staff are fully informed moving forward.”