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Papillion La Vista School Board approves return to class plan

Posted at 10:35 PM, Jul 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-27 23:35:18-04

PAPILLION, Neb. (KMTV) — The Papillion La Vista School Board approved the district's plan to return to class in the fall on Monday.

PLCS says their goals are simple… provide quality education, offer face to face and remote learning, while also keeping students and staff healthy.

Superintendent Dr. Andrew Rikli says they want to keep students in building this year for as long as possible.

At Monday’s school board meeting, Dr. Rikli said he feels "very good" about the plan, but he adds that it's not perfect.

“I don't think anyone in this room, anyone in this community, anyone in this state wants to see us go into lockdown mode again like we did for an extended period of time fourth quarter. That isn't good for our kids... it's not good for our future."

The district will require students and staff to wear masks.

District officials say its imperative that parents keep their kids at home if they're showing symptoms of illness.

In addition to mask-wearing, parents who drop their kids off must remain in their cars during drop off and dismissal and essential visitors will be by appointment only.

Schools will also have two health offices -- one for sick students and another for healthy kids who have medicine checks.

The local teacher's union reacted Monday night to Papillion La Vista's return to class plan.

Read their statement below.

The Papillion La Vista Education Association’s Board of Directors, which represents approximately 625 certified staff members in Papillion La Vista Community Schools, expresses this statement of concern regarding the announced plan for the full reopening of schools in PLCS on August 11, 2020.

PLEA’s mission is to represent the best interests of our educators, students, and their families across the district. During this pandemic, we have all faced countless challenges and unknowns. We have worked closely with PLCS administration to provide for our community and to plan for a safe return to school. We have listened to our members. We, too, are teachers. We want to return to school. We know that in-person instruction is in our students’ best interest, but it is not safe under the plan proposed by the district. We must listen to medical professionals and our families. We need to respond to local realities and rely on health experts.

On June 22, the Papillion La Vista Community Schools leadership proposed an intent to return to school with full attendance. However, since that time, the pandemic across the state of Nebraska has worsened. According to the Center for Disease Control and the University of Nebraska Medical Center, the safest protocols for reopening schools include a mask requirement for all in attendance and social distancing of six feet. Although PLCS is requiring masks for all, social distancing of six feet is not possible in most of our classrooms.

If you walk into any of our buildings in PLCS, you will see that many aspects of our classrooms have been stripped. Desks are spaced apart facing the same direction. Students are separated at tables. Despite these efforts and given the number of students that attend our schools, we cannot ensure that safe social distancing can be achieved or maintained.

Based on guidelines provided by the UNMC School of Public Health’s K-12 Back to School Playbook, the conditions in our schools and communities do not make it safe for a 100 percent capacity reopening. If we do not have the resources for a virtual restart that meets the needs of all of our students, we ask that school be reopened at no more than 50 percent capacity. The district has prepared for this option and we believe that now is the time to announce the implementation of a plan that reduces student in-person daily attendance to 50 percent or less.

There is no doubt that 100 percent in-person instruction is ideal. However, given the current level of community spread, we cannot support a plan that endangers the lives of our friends, families, and members of our community. Teachers want to return to the classroom. However, we must do so safely. We must do what is right and safe for all of the stakeholders in and around our Papillion, La Vista, and Bellevue communities.