What is it going to take to get OPS students back in buildings?

Posted at 10:48 PM, Sep 08, 2020

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Omaha Public Schools board members gathered Tuesday evening to have an in-depth round table discussion on updates to the back to school plan and what has to happen in order for students to return back into the buildings.

"We have to look at some of the community conditions and then start making some decisions about when it is appropriate to return to school,” said Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Logan.

So what is it going to take to get students back to buildings?

School officials say ideally there needs to be rapid testing available for students and staff and the community positivity rate has to go down to 5 percent. Right now, Douglas County is at around 10 percent and testing is hard to come by for kids.

"We know that we are not going to likely get to that 5 percent anytime soon and we have to make some decisions," said Dr. Logan.

The board says some things are negotiable, like the positivity rate, but some aren’t, like 5 days of learning for all students in some capacity and masks. To return safely, the district is also focusing on transportation, filters in schools, and sanitation.

Another hot topic was sports. The supervisor of athletics for OPS says there's a possibility fall sports could take place at the same time as spring sports in a few months after parents and students demanded fall sports to return.

"We've been working with high school athletic directors to submit a proposal to the NSAA for our fall student athletes to particiate this spring,” said Stephen Eubanks, supervisor of OPS athletics.

The board and educators also discussed staffing shortages, specifically in substitute teachers.

"We're experiencing a nationwide teacher shortage. We see that in hard-to-fill positions like special ed, math, and science. But where we see that first is our substitute teachers," said Charles Wakefield, chief human resources officer for OPS.

But according to the district, even though there are some shortages, the district is still on track.

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