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'We have a choice' NSEA calls for tighter restrictions to keep schools open

Posted at 6:14 PM, Nov 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-17 00:40:01-05

LINCOLN, Neb. (KMTV) — In a virtual press conference Monday morning, the NSEA leadership pointed to a dire situation, specifically pointing to a recent survey of Nebraska teachers, in which educators said they were overwhelmed, stressed, worried and frustrated.

“It is being spread in school. It is. It has to be. Because they're doing everything right,” said NSEA president, Jenni Benson.

They believe stricter guidelines need to be in place or schools will be forced to go back to 100 percent remote.

“We have a choice. We have to take action now, or our schools are going to have to close,“ Benson said.

They called for Governor Ricketts to do four major things:

  • A statewide mask mandate
  • Ban gatherings of more than 10 people
  • Close down bars and restaurants and encourage takeout
  • De-densify classrooms and lunchrooms across the state’s schools.

For our web extra: Nebraska teachers union speaks out in emotional press conference

“It’s the governor who has the leverage to do this across our state,” said Maddie Fennell, Executive Director of NSEA.

Fennell said these requests are not political.

“This is not about coming after a candidate or a governor that we may have supported in this past. This is about what is in the best interests of students and staff across the state,” said Fennell.

They also are calling on school districts or even the Nebraska Schools Activity Association to shut down high school sports until January.

“We do not do this lightly. We know how important these things are to kids. However we feel that a six week moratorium will allow us to celebrate spring sports with our students, to allow us to come back healthy,” said Fennell.

Fennell was firm that the union was not calling for a teacher walk out, but worries what could happen if nothing is done.

“We’re not going to call for a work stoppage, but work is going to stop, just like it has in several districts in the last few weeks because they simply didn’t have enough people to keep school going,” said Fennell.

The NSEA also filed a petition with the Nebraska State Board of Education asking them to adopt protocols recommended by the CDC and UNMC, that every Nebraska school district would have to follow.

To see the virtual press conference:

Nebraska State Education Association Press Conference on COVID-19 Safety