Norman Parents, Teachers Hold Dueling Protests After Switch To Virtual Classes

Monday, September 21st 2020, 10:30 pm
By: Barry Mangold

NORMAN, Okla. -

Two separate groups held peaceful demonstrations advocating for and against distanced learning in Norman Public Schools on Monday night. 

A group of parents pushing for the district to resume in-person classes ahead of the district assembled at Lions Park, while a band of teachers met at Norman High School. Both groups marched to the district administration building ahead of the Board of Education meeting. 

“We just want them to know that we want our voices heard too,” said Lindsey Crowell, one of the organizers of the parents’ event. 

The district announced last week that elementary and secondary schools would move to virtual classes because of Cleveland County’s COVID-19 infection rate.  

The rate was above 25 cases per 100,000 people for two weeks straight, which places the district in “Orange Level 2,” according to the Oklahoma State Department of Education. As a result, the district opted to switch to all virtual classes Monday. 

Teachers holding up signs outside NHS were not advocating for virtual learning itself, but rather for following state guidelines to prevent additional spread. 

“We didn’t sign up to get a deadly virus,” said, Maren Eliason, a teacher at Irving Middle School. “We want to be in person. We would love it if everything were normal and we could meet with all of our students, all day long, like we usually are. Right now, it’s not safe to do that.” 

Norman Public Schools updates its website with information on COVID-19 in each school every week.  

Last week, there were 41 confirmed cases of the virus across the district’s two high schools between students and staff. Two hundred fifty-four students were quarantined, 161 of which were at Norman High School. 

“People could get sick and people could die. I mean, in the end, that is what could happen if we don’t follow the (OSDE) guidelines to a T,” said Alicia Priest, president of the Oklahoma Educators Association.