OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Omaha Public Schools is returning to five day in-person learning this month. Elementary and middle schools began Tuesday, February 2, and high schools will return Wednesday, February 17.
School officials say students were excited to be back in the building with all their friends.
"Most of them were tickled pink to be here. Some of them hadn’t seen their classmates from the opposite alphabet since, you figure last March, so being able to actually lay eyes on that person was a really good moment to see for some of those students," said Dr. Kimberly Jackson, Principal at Morton Middle School.
To keep everyone safe, the district has implemented precautions such as masks, social distancing, staggered dismissal and additional passing time.
"With some folks we had to swap out their tables so that we could still maintain social distancing with those desks. Another element of it is within each class period we go through an intensive spray down of the desks and after that the kids don’t touch anything until they exit the room and the next group comes in," Jackson said.
Lunch is the only period in which students do not wear masks, so socially distancing is especially critical at that time according to Jackson. She said adults and students understand that staying safe is a shared commitment.
About 30% of OPS students will remain in remote learning. Jackson said they are working with those students to ensure they feel as included as possible.
"Our social workers right now and our counselors are working towards building groups and bringing in students that have like things going on or like interests so that they can come together in this type of environment safely to maintain that social dynamic that we know middle school students and all students need," Jackson said.
She said helping them feel connected to their teachers during learning is a critical foundation to their education.
OPS released the following guidelines to determine whether students should or shouldn't report for in-person learning:
Every day before they leave home, families will complete a self-health assessment, asking themselves three vital questions:
- Has your child experienced one or more of the following symptoms: a new cough, new onset of shortness of breath, new loss of taste or smell OR two or more of the following symptoms: fever 100.4 or above, chills, muscle aches, headache, sore throat, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue in the last 24 hours?
- Is your child waiting for a Covid-19 test result?
- Has anyone in your household been diagnosed with Covid-19 in the last 14 days?
If they answer "yes" to any of these questions, they will be expected to stay home.