The COVID-19 pandemic hits Norfolk Public Schools

Local News

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — On Father’s Day, Anthony Harrell appeared in good spirits and good health as he partied with friends at a nightclub in Virginia Beach.

A video posted on his Facebook page shows there was little social distancing and few patrons wore masks. Family members say on June 27, Harrell, a custodian at Crossroads Elementary School in Norfolk was transported by ambulance to a local hospital, and placed on a ventilator. He tested positive for COVID-19, then died on July 3. Harrell, AKA “Ant,” was 41 years old. It is unknown how or where he picked up the deadly virus.

Multiple sources tell WAVY-TV 10 that Harrell’s case triggered a quarantine of the entire custodial department at Crossroads Elementary School. Thomas Calhoun, president of the Norfolk Federation of Teachers, is concerned other school employees may be infected.

“There were staff members who were quarantined; I talked to a staff member [Monday] who is waiting for the results of a test,” said Calhoun.

Harrell’s death is just one of several cases under review by WAVY-TV 10. Multiple sources tell 10 On Your Side an employee at Ruffner Academy school has COVID-19. Sources also say employees at Jacox, Tanners Creek, and Norview Elementary Schools have tested positive for the virus.

The Ruffner Academy educator is a high-ranking school official who posted a picture on Facebook Monday that shows he is hospitalized. He posted: “COVID-19 is real…Get tested. “

In reviewing the school system’s response following Harrell’s case, the union president gives administrators a failing grade.

“I don’t feel like the area manager and her boss, the area coordinator, were ready to handle that case as it turned up. [He has] employees calling [him] saying ‘What about us?’ I don’t think it was handled well — period.”

Calhoun is concerned for the entire community, as schools across the country are under pressure to reopen.

“If we reopen schools anywhere in the country or the world, you put the students, the employees, and the families … in some kind of jeopardy,” said Calhoun.

NPS spokesperson Kathleen O’Hara cannot comment on health issues concerning employees, however, she stated the school system follows protocols to notify anyone who may have been exposed to the coronavirus in the workplace.

“The Norfolk School Board this week is developing options to reopen for the 2020-2021 school year. The year of the pandemic will include brick and mortar learning as well as distance learning options. The recommendations will be available for review late this morning or early August.”

Read the entire statement from Norfolk Public Schools here.

Funeral services for Anthony Harrell will be held Saturday, 2 p.m at Metropolitan Funeral Home in the Berkley section of Norfolk. Family members say if you plan to attend, please wear a mask.


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