Norwood High School shut down last week, on Jan. 6, just one day after returning from the winter break, after a student tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. The school published a news release to the school community that stated there was also close contact with teachers and a lack of substitute teachers.
Students in grades nine through 12 went to remote learning, though students in grades kindergarten through eight remained in-person.
The news came as a blow to some parents who say their kids need to be in school. On social media, in Norwood community Facebook groups, some parents lamented the period of online learning. They say their kids’ need to be on campus outweighs the risk of potentially contracting the virus.
“We as parents know the risks and are willing to take whatever precautions need be to keep our kids in school and in sports,” said Mandee Shirley, mother of two high school boys. “My kids, and I’m not alone, need structure and accountability. They just aren’t getting that from home. I can’t expect them and the teachers to be glued to the computer all day long. They are missing the interaction. An email a day and a five-minute Zoom per class isn’t cutting it. We have straight A students failing, and kids that struggle in school or need structure, just giving up. Sports are also a huge part of education for lots of kids. They need that also.”
By the end of last week, though, the school announced that grades nine and 10 would be welcomed back into the building, and that rapid testing, through San Miguel County’s Public Health Department, would take place for students who’d been contact traced from the positive case.
School nurse Teri Williams and Norwood Fire Protection District paramedic Matt Mogg helped administer the rapid tests Monday morning from 9-11 a.m.
In other school news, high school principal Perri Gipner announced her resignation to the school’s board of education. So did elementary school principal Sara Rasmussen.
Norwood Public Schools already has a superintendent search underway. Gipner and Rasmussen’s resignations leave the district without principals at this point for the next school year also.
“I want to thank both past and present board members for the opportunity to serve this district, as well as the remarkable staff who continue to tirelessly devote themselves to the youth of this community,” Gipner said in her letter to the board. “And of course, it must be acknowledged that working along Sara Rasmussen has been a highlight of my time here. I hope that we have modeled that two individuals from different walks of life with vastly differing backgrounds can not only work together in harmony but never lose sight of our common purpose — what is best for kids.”
“This is one of the hardest decisions I have made in my career,” Rasmussen told The Norwood Post Monday evening. “I love the people I work with, and I truly love the kids I interact with every day. I am proud of the accomplishments of Norwood schools, and I have been extremely honored to be a part of it. I will miss this chapter of my life, but I look forward to my next chapter. I will always hold this school and community near and dear to my heart.”
Gipner had 10 years of service with Norwood Public Schools; Rasmussen had 20.