PAPILLION, Neb. (KMTV) — Starting on Monday, all students, staff and visitors will be required to wear masks while inside Papillion La Vista Community Schools (PLCS) buildings as well as buses that serve the district.
The news came in a release to parents on Friday and said anyone who comes without a mask will be provided one.
Masks will not be required during outdoor activities.
The PLCS said the decision to require masks came after an increase in COVID-19 cases since school resumed on Aug. 12.
Since then, the Sarpy/Cass County Health Department closed three classrooms and cases jumped from 28 last Monday to 105 cases today.
You can read the district’s full release below:
Beginning Monday, August 30, 2021, all students, staff, and visitors will be required to wear a mask while inside all Papillion La Vista Community Schools and buildings, as well as all district-provided transportation and buses. Everyone should wear masks when entering buildings. Those who arrive without a mask will be provided one. Masks will not be required outdoors, including at recess, outdoor PE classes, and other outdoor sports and activities.
This decision was made due to an increase of positive COVID-19 cases since classes resumed on August 12. Since that time, the Sarpy/Cass Health Department has closed three PLCS classrooms and cases have increased from 28 cases on Monday, August 23, 2021, to over 105 cases as of Friday, August 27, 2021. Typically the COVID-19 dashboard on our website is updated Monday of each week to reflect the prior week, but we've updated it today (Friday) for your reference. Cases are being reported at all school levels across the district. Requiring masks supports the PLCS priority to keep students learning in person at school all year, with the particular intent to prevent any additional classroom closures.
Dr. Rikli and PLCS officials have been in continual conversation with the Sarpy/Cass County Health Department to regularly reassess the effectiveness of the protocols outlined in the Return to School plan for 2021-2022. When the plan was released, we had hoped for more normalcy. However, with the recent spike in cases it is clear that the protocols must be adjusted in order to prioritize health and safety and keep learning in person. The Board of Education supports the implementation of this plan.
PLCS will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation in our schools and community and make adjustments as needed. This change in health and safety protocols will be in effect until further notice and shall be considered an addendum to the Student Handbook.
Thank you to everyone for committing to work together to keep students learning safely in person during the ongoing pandemic.
What is the mask requirement?
Appropriate face coverings are required for everyone indoors in all district buildings. While within any PLCS facility, everyone will wear a mask that covers their mouth and nose. Masks are not required outdoors.
How is the mask requirement different from last year?
Masks will not be required outdoors, including activities like recess, outdoor PE, sports practice and events, and student drop-off and pick-up.
What if my child/student comes to school without a mask?
Students who arrive at school without a mask will be provided one from the office.
What if my child/student can’t wear a mask?
If a student can’t wear a mask, parents will need to provide the school principal with a note from a medical doctor with a diagnosed medical reason for the student to not wear a mask. The principal will work with the health office to determine appropriate accommodations.
What if my child/student refuses to wear a mask?
Students will be given the opportunity to follow the rules and wear a mask, either brought from home or received from the office. If they continue to refuse to wear a mask, parents will be asked to pick them up to go home until they will wear a mask.
What is an appropriate face mask?
All masks must cover both the mouth and nose. Face masks must follow the student handbook dress code. Face shields on their own will not replace face masks.
Is PLCS providing masks to students/staff?
Students and staff are encouraged to bring their own masks, but masks will be provided at the school office when needed.
Will students have mask breaks? What do those breaks look like, and how often will they occur?
Teachers will work to implement mask breaks when possible. Masks will not be required any time while outdoors.
Will masks be required on the bus?
Masks will be required when riding any district-provided transportation, including elementary and secondary buses and school vans.
Will students be required to wear masks at Kids Club?
Kids Club will follow the guidelines that are in place in PLCS. Masks will be required indoors and optional for outdoor activities.
What will the protocols be for secondary activities?
For a current list of activity-specific protocols, visit https://www.plcschools.org/2021ActivityGuidelines
Will visitors be allowed in the buildings?
Visitors during the school day will be limited and required to wear a mask. Classroom visitors will be limited to those who directly tie into the curriculum. Due to limited space, no visitors will be allowed at lunch at this time.
What are the expectations for PTO events and activities?
Masks will be required for any event or activity that is indoors at a PLCS building. For events not on PLCS property, families should follow the guidelines for that business or school district as they apply.
In addition to masks, what other safety protocols are in place?
PLCS will follow the back to school plan which includes:
- Individuals are encouraged to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer frequently throughout the day.
- Increased cleaning measures, including frequent cleaning of high-touch surfaces and areas, are part of the daily schedule.
- Three-feet social distancing will be implemented at the elementary level during lunch time when masks are removed.
- Individuals will stay home if showing symptoms or with a positive test.
- Classroom visitors will be limited, but allowed if directly tied to the curriculum.
- All staff and students eligible for vaccination are encouraged to get vaccinated.
- PLCS is hosting a vaccination clinic on September 1st from 4-6:30 p.m. at Papillion La Vista South High School in the Cafeteria. For more information, visit https://www.smore.com/nmsqe
How long will the mask requirement last?
This current mask requirement is in effect until further notice. Dr. Rikli and the Board of Education will continually monitor the number of cases and the need for masks will be discussed at a minimum of one board meeting per month.
If the students are wearing masks in the classroom, will we still have to close classrooms with multiple positive cases?
Currently, we do not believe we will have to close classrooms, but we will continue to work with the Sarpy/Cass Health Department and follow their recommendations as each individual situation is unique. We hope to soon see a shift in health department requirements due to the mask implementation. However, classroom closures may still be possible in the near future for a short time.
What does a mask requirement mean for vaccinated students/staff?
Vaccinated students and staff are also required to wear masks. The Sarpy/Cass Health Department is not typically requiring vaccinated individuals who are not showing symptoms to isolate when they are exposed. Around 90% of PLCS staff are vaccinated.
What is the communication about positive cases and possible exposure in a classroom?
Our current practice is to send communication directly to staff and the parents of students that were exposed to a positive case at school. This message includes an informational letter from the Sarpy/Cass Health Department for next steps the family should take. We will continue to communicate information as directed by the Sarpy/Cass Health Department. In addition, a dashboard of the previous week's confirmed positive cases with school exposure is updated each Monday morning on the district website at https://www.plcschools.org/domain/1467.
What is the protocol if my child tests positive?
Upon the onset of any symptoms and/or when you receive a positive test, you will contact the school nurse and keep your child at home. The Sarpy/Cass County Health Department will instruct you on required isolation time and procedure.
When can staff take their mask off?
If a staff member is not around others (i.e. one individual teacher in a classroom, individual in office area alone) the mask may be removed until such time as others enter the space. Masks may be removed for meals (under social distance guidelines) or when participating in outdoor activities.
What is PLCS doing to support mental health?
PLCS will continue a variety of supports and partnerships, including (but not limited to):
- PLV Cares
- Highly trained Counselors, Social Workers on staff
- Boystown National Hotline
- Project Harmony programs
- Social Emotional Learning Curriculum
- Screener for mental health
- PLCS Community Closet
- Employee Assistance Program for staff
- And more!
RESOURCES FOR FAMILIES:
It is important that everyone gives extra attention to taking care of yourself and your family. Please take advantage of the free resources if you need help. Together we will stay focused on our goal of keeping our community healthy.
531-444-CARE - PLCS Helpline - Available For Free To All Families
Papillion La Vista Community Schools has implemented a crisis hotline for staff, students and parents to use FREE of charge. The helpline is staffed 24 hours a day 365 days a year with trained Boys Town Counselors. Are you concerned about your child? Do you have family issues and need some extra support? Call 531-444-CARE (2273) for FREE immediate support.
A Community That Cares
PLV Cares is a partnership between PLCS and the cities of Papillion and La Vista. PLV Cares advocates for mental health support for families in the Papillion La Vista Community.
- We are dedicated to connecting families to mental health resources.
- We are driven to enhance the well-being of our community.
- We are a community that cares.