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LPS board approved more planning time for teachers, time off for students
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LPS board approved more planning time for teachers, time off for students

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The Lincoln Board of Education approved several more early-release dates and days off for students Tuesday, a way to give stressed and overworked teachers more time to plan lessons that must now include both in-person and remote learners.

LPS officials announced the proposal a couple of weeks ago in response to teachers who say the pace at which they’re being asked to work — because of the extra time needed to plan and figure out technology to accommodate both in-person and remote learners — is unsustainable without more time to prepare and plan.

The proposal came before the board on first reading, but it waived second reading and unanimously approved the changes Tuesday. The Lincoln Education Association, which represents LPS teachers, worked with school officials on the proposal and President Rita Bennett thanked the board, while acknowledging the work to help teachers isn't done. 

Associate Superintendent for Instruction Matt Larson said the state education department's decision to loosen requirements for how many hours of instruction students must have each year helped. LPS is not at the limits yet, Larson said, but tried to make it equal between grade levels, and high schools are now closest to those state limits. 

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LPS officials have already said the time teachers spend in professional learning committees — time when students leave early so teachers can collaborate — can now be spent entirely on preparing classes for in-person and remote learners.

Elementary and middle school students now get out early once a month for teacher PLCs; high school students get out early once a week.

The proposal allows for additional early-release days for early education, elementary and middle school students Nov. 10, Jan. 12, Feb. 9, March 16 and April 13.

The challenges and stress of doing it all: remote and in-person teaching

Elementary school students will get additional days off Nov. 2 and Dec. 11; middle school students Nov. 2 and Feb. 15; and high school students Nov. 2, Feb. 15 and April 1.

For teachers, 90 minutes of each of those full days off will be dedicated to equity-related training.

In March, LPS changed the calendar to make Nov. 3 — Election Day — a district-wide day off because many schools are polling places. That means all students would get a four-day weekend from Oct. 31-Nov. 3.

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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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