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All Lincoln seniors will be able to return to class full time next month
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All Lincoln seniors will be able to return to class full time next month

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Lincoln Public Schools seniors — all that want to, anyway — can return to their high schools full time beginning next month, Superintendent Steve Joel announced Friday.

The change, which eliminates the staggered schedules for seniors only, will allow all seniors to attend school five days a week beginning Feb. 1.

All LPS high schools have been on staggered schedules since school began, with half the students in school the first two days a week, the other half the last two days, and the groups alternating Wednesdays.

When they’re not in school, students do remote learning. Seniors will be able to remain fully remote or on staggered schedules if they choose.

Underclassmen will remain on the staggered schedules.

Joel said that LPS educators have considered in-person learning the most effective from the beginning and have wanted to get all students back in school as soon as possible. 

Officials have been thinking about seniors since last March, that the limitations of the pandemic have hit them hardest, Joel said. Some have struggled academically in the remote environment and LPS wants to do what it can to ensure seniors graduate. They've also missed much of a traditional senior year.

"The seniors have really lost the most. They lost the last couple months of their junior year, most of their senior year," he said. “We are really excited that seniors can come back Feb. 1 and we want them to get back to where they left off."

The change comes on the heels of the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department moving the coronavirus risk dial down to orange. It’s been in the red, or severe category, since early November, but Joel said the decision was not related to that change.

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The purpose of the staggered schedules was to reduce the number of people in a building as a safety protocol and to reduce the chance of virus spread.

LPS officials estimate that allowing all seniors to come back to the classroom full time will increase capacity at the high schools to between 56% and 63%, adding between 272-353 students, depending on the school.

“We are still in a pandemic and we are concerned about too many bodies (in the building),  but we also know 65% capacity, following safety protocols, we think this is very doable and manageable,” Joel said.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7226 or mreist@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSreist

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Education reporter

Margaret Reist is a Lincoln native, the mom of three high school graduates now navigating college and an education junkie who covers students, teachers and policymakers inside and outside the K-12 classroom.

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