BOZEMAN — Irving Elementary parents planned for their children to go back to school five days a week starting last Monday — but by Tuesday, it was a different story.
“Basically, what happened was we had a teacher that tested positive, and we didn’t find out until about 5 or 5:30 in the evening,” explained Steve Johnson, the deputy superintendent of operations for the school district.
Just before 9 p.m. Monday night, the school announced the closure. Johnson says students weren’t exposed because the teacher was in quarantine on Monday, and the close contacts happened before she went into quarantine and before she was tested.
“She was in quarantine, so the contact tracing that we had to do was from the previous week,” Johnson said.
The contact tracing and uncertainty of how many teachers may have been exposed is what led them to cancel in-person classes Tuesday, just one day after the switch. But Johnson says the timing was just a coincidence.
“The timing couldn’t be worse. But in reality, it didn’t have anything to do with going back to 5 days. Was it an unwanted coincidence? Yeah, probably,” he said.
The school district is dealing with a lot as they also announced this week Superintendent Bob Connors was placed on administrative leave but gave few other details.
“It is a personnel issue. You know, Bob has a right to privacy. He is an individual, and I guess in that regard, we are hoping that people show him a little grace. There’s a lot of assumptions out there what happened and that’s not healthy, making all those assumptions without knowing. And I know people will say, well we have assumptions because you guys aren’t talking about it. Well, that’s the situation that we’re in right now,” Johnson explained.
Irving Elementary was able to resume classes Wednesday and was only remote for one day.
Steve Johnson, Marilyn King, and Casey Bertam, the three current deputy superintendents, will be acting in Connor's place while he is on leave.