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Elkhorn adds e-learning weeks, teacher work days to school calendar

Posted at 6:30 PM, Oct 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-13 19:30:17-04

ELKHORN, Neb. (KMTV) — Elkhorn Public Schools (EPS) is changing its calendar; the district added five teacher workdays to help accommodate an increased workload and changed the weeks following Thanksgiving break, winter break and spring break to e-learning.

Superintendent Bary Habrock declined an on-camera interview about the change, instead referred us to a letter sent to parents.

It reads in part:
“General trends for 2020 have shown spikes in cases following holidays and times when people gather and travel. In an attempt to mitigate spikes in cases for students and staff following scheduled breaks, the district plans to move to the District Distance Learning Plan (Plan E) on a planned short-term (one week) basis in order to keep students at home and reduce exposures following Thanksgiving break, Winter break, and Spring break. Therefore, Planned Distance Learning weeks following breaks are scheduled for November 30 - December 4, January 4-8 (January 4th was previously an in-service day and is now a student day), and March 22-26. We hope this proactive approach improves our ability to avoid long-term closures and allows students/staff to monitor their health for symptoms when the virus is sure to be active.”

EPS schedule changes are catching some parents off guard.

“I’m a little panicky,” Britanny Peasinger, mother of four said. “I just found out about it. Owning a salon and spa, being self-employed trying to find care for the children or someone to help them. I have four littles and it’s a big change when I’m booked out through Christmas already.”

“It gets a little challenging having multiple kids at home running around while you’re trying to work,” Amanda Bogatz said.

Bogatz said she would rather the district stick with in-person learning and continue encouraging families to keep sick kids home.

Andrea Bashara is a mother to high school-aged kids. She said they are pretty independent with their e-learning.

“I actually am extremely pleased with the decision; I think it is brilliant on their part. The number one goal is to keep our kids safe,” Bashara said.

EPS reports 22 high school, seven middle school, and 11 elementary school positive COVID-19 student cases as of October 13.

“From the beginning, we understood that we could not keep the virus outside our walls but needed to isolate and contain without school-wide spread. We have been successful containing the virus to date with over 11,000 students/staff within 19 schools,” Superintendent Habrock writes.

High school extracurricular activities will continue with added screening protocols during e-learning weeks.

EPS Foundation is exploring options to expand it’s before/after school child-care program during the e-learning weeks.

As far as snow days, they do not have plans to use e-learning to cover single snow days at this time. Though, Superintendent Habrock notes, “plans could change if we face an unusually harsh winter and need to recoup instructional minutes to meet required state minimums.”

Additional EPS teacher workdays are November 3, November 25, December 21, December 22, and February 1.