OMAHA, Neb. — Tuesday's Omaha Public School Board meeting was a plea from board members and residents for officials to step up. Members of the board called out the politicizing of COVID-19 and demanded Governor Ricketts to take action to protect students.
"When I see politicians make decisions based on what's best in their political interest versus what's best in the interest of every Nebraskan, it makes me sick," OPS board member Ben Perlman said at Tuesday evening's meeting.
Multiple board members expressed their frustration with leadership at the state level, saying they have no choice but to make the decisions they have been making.
"We are not fully valuing the lives of our children if policymakers continue to roadblock responsive pandemic response," OPS board member Amanda Ryan said.
Parents and speakers during open comments echoed what board members stated and said they're not comfortable with the return if the county does not have a mask mandate in place.
"I question constantly how many people have to die before masking is mandated and the population as a whole takes it seriously," one speaker during public comment asked.
For now the school district is still planning on returning with the 3/2 model which would limit students to 50 percent capacity. Over 4,000 students have been approved for the remote learning option.
"I wouldn't send my children back so that's very personal to me. I wouldn't want my grandchildren going back either," OPS board member Nancy Kratky said.
Educators at the meeting say they still have questions they need answered. They don't know if they need to be preparing their classrooms, or fully-remote lesson plans instead.
"I'm not clear of my use of time in my classroom today. Moving my materials to a new room, printing my rosters, preparing my classroom like a traditional year with new posters going up and cleaning and decorating. Is that the best way for me to be using my time?" Omaha South High School teacher Halley Taylor said.
School board president Marque Snow says they are doing their best to keep teachers informed but that many of the decisions they're making is out of their hands.