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OPS board member says Nebraska leaders are not taking COVID-19 seriously

Board Member Ben Perlman says Omaha's positivity rate is too high compared to other major U.S. cities.
Posted at 10:14 PM, Sep 21, 2020

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Omaha Public School students and staff are slowly phasing back into the classroom this week under the Family 3/2 model.

Dr. Cheryl Logan says families have until Tuesday at midnight to make a choice.

“17% of our total student population has selected the remote option, and 83% have selected the in-person option," Dr. Logan said of the numbers the District has received so far.

OPS Board Member Ben Perlman says COVID-19 numbers in Douglas County and Nebraska are high compared to more populated areas of the United States.

He believes leaders at the state, county and city level are not taking the virus seriously, adding it is putting teachers at risk.

“Orange County, California’s got 3.5 million people. They are doing about 100 cases a day,” Perlman said. “New York City had about 200 cases today. They got 8.5 million people in New York City.”

Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services reports the state’s positivity rate sits at 9.6%, compared to the more populated state of New York that sits at around 1%.

Others at Monday’s meeting say the plan to re-open is far too soon, adding the brunt of a Family 3/2 model falls on teachers.

“Can we stop saying that’s it’s safe,” Molly Davis said. “Teachers are largely over-educated nerds and we read too much and when we are told things that we can plainly see are not the case, it insults all of us.”

“Teachers are in fear for their own lives and the lives that they care for,” Travis Petty said. “I might very well die from COVID if I catch it from my significant other, so might his grandmother and his sister. You assert that you care, I feel you do not.”

Dr. Logan says the District has spent the last 7 months monitoring health conditions in the Omaha area to safely position themselves when they decide to return back to 100%.

She says they are moving forward with certain criteria to slow the spread of the virus.

“A few weeks ago, we outlined specific non-negotiable guidelines for learning going forward,” Dr. Logan said. “This includes face coverings, social distancing and maintaining remote learning options that keep students and teacher connection intact.”