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'I guess this is the new norm': Thousands of area students head back to school this week

Students share their experiences
Posted at 6:30 PM, Aug 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-11 19:30:44-04

PAPILLION, Neb. — This week is a busy week, as many area school districts reopen. Students are doing their best to adapt to all the new changes.

"It was a little awkward getting used to it at first - hand sanitizing, going in and out of classes and wiping down desks," Papillion-La Vista South High School freshman Brette Paul said.

Besides it being the first day of school for students, it was also the first day of many changes within the educational system. This includes mask requirements for students and staff.

"I didn't see anybody complaining or wanting to take them off. Everyone just kind of went along with it. I guess this is the new norm. So we're going to have to get used to it," Paul said.

Ralston Public Schools started school Tuesday along with Papillion-La Vista. The decision to reopen at 100 percent capacity was protested by some area educators Monday, but supported by school officials.

"I just really want to see kids in our buildings. I can't recall any time in the last 50, perhaps 100 years, where we've had five full months of time without kids in our public school system," Papillion-La Vista superintendent Dr. Andrew Rikli said.

Plans can change quickly, but for now Bennington, Bellevue and Gretna Public Schools will also all start in-person learning this week. Next week Westside, Springfield Platteview and Elkhorn will start. Omaha Public Schools were supposed to begin this week but that was postponed. They will now begin 100 percent virtually next week.

OPS officials say they're taking this week to finalize fully-remote plans for teachers and students. As part of that process they say they're, "Deploying internet-connected devices to all students as part of the district's 1 to 1 technology initiative and preparing teachers and staff to meet the expectations of a virtual learning environment."

Council Bluffs Public Schools will begin school later this month.