School Masks

A caretaker picks up their student from Jackson Elementary in March 2021.

Norman Public Schools will become one of multiple metro-area districts canceling school and moving to remote learning this week as COVID-related absences take a toll on staff and students.

The district will move multiple school sites to remote learning on Thursday, Jan. 13, and will cancel school entirely Friday, Jan. 14. Because Monday, Jan. 17 is a national holiday, the district expects to return to in-person learning by next Tuesday, according to a Wednesday announcement from Superintendent Nick Migliorino.

The schools learning remotely on Jan. 13 will be:

  • Jackson Elementary
  • Lincoln Elementary
  • Madison Elementary
  • Monroe Elementary
  • Truman Primary
  • Washington Elementary
  • Alcott Middle School
  • Longfellow Middle School

All school sites will be closed on Jan. 14, and extracurricular school activities scheduled for Saturday through Monday will be called off, Migliorino said.

NPS will continue serving free student meals throughout the week, Migliorino said. Breakfast and lunches are available at Sodexo’s Central Kitchen at 111 N. Berry Road; pickups can be scheduled by calling 405-366-5908.

The superintendent said families will be updated on the learning situation again come Monday.

“All year, and throughout this pandemic, we have done everything in our power to keep our doors open and our students in person,” Migliorino’s message reads. “Our teachers, administrators and staff have been pushed to their capacity, covering classes and making special accommodations to ensure school could go on. I cannot say enough how grateful I am for their heroic efforts.”

The district is far from alone in making the call to cancel. Oklahoma City Public Schools announced Wednesday afternoon that due to staffing issues, the district will shift to remote learning for the rest of the week, with hopes to return to in-person instruction next Tuesday.

Mid-Del Public Schools will close its buildings and cancel classes Thursday through Monday, with staff shortages across the district. Noble Public Schools announced Wednesday that with more than 400 students quarantining and 22 classrooms without teachers, it will move to remote learning on Thursday and hope to return in person next Tuesday.

While Oklahoma Secretary of Education Ryan Walters tweeted Tuesday condemning district closures and saying cancelations should be “the last resort,” Migliorino and other superintendents have made clear this week that they are not taking remote learning and school cancelation decisions lightly, and that they can no longer continue in-person learning safely.

OKCPS Superintendent Sean McDaniel shared in his announcement Wednesday that the volume of absences means his district “can no longer adequately sustain a safe and meaningful learning environment for our students.”

“Our goal is, has been and will continue to be to have school, to have a place where students can come to learn, have an opportunity for hot meal and the opportunity for an education,” Migliorino said during a Monday Board of Education meeting, acknowledging an “all-hands-on-deck” staffing situation.

NPS’ COVID dashboard shows that from Jan. 2-11, the district had 636 students and 190 staff who were positive for COVID-19. From Jan. 5-11, 2,491 NPS students and 220 staff were deemed close contacts.

Emma Keith is the editor of The Transcript, where she covers Norman Public Schools and the University of Oklahoma. Reach her at ekeith@normantranscript.com or at @emma_ckeith.

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Emma Keith is the editor of The Norman Transcript, where she also covers Norman Public Schools and The University of Oklahoma. She is a 2019 OU graduate.