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Pius X to resume regular schedule after moving to half days

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Lincoln Pius X High School will resume its regular schedule next week after shifting to a half-day format to get ahead of surging COVID-19 cases among staff and students.

Officials at Lincoln's lone Catholic high school announced it would dismiss at noon from Jan. 13-21 as coronavirus cases driven by the highly contagious omicron variant continued to rise among students and staff.

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The half-day schedule alternated between the first four and the last four periods of the day, with classes lasting 10 minutes longer. Teachers still worked in the afternoons, helping students who were in quarantine or who recently returned to school catch up on missed work.

Tom Korta, chief administrative officer at Pius X, said officials would reevaluate the scheduling change this week and extend it if needed.

But case numbers have dropped this week — a shortened one for Pius X with no school on Monday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

This week, just more than 20 students and three staff members tested positive. That's down from the 50 or so students and a handful of staff who reported positive tests last week.

Korta said the altered schedule would allow the school to get ahead of an expected peak in coronavirus cases later this month, while giving teachers and students a chance to catch up on missed work.

Meanwhile, at Lincoln Public Schools, students were off Friday — the first of three consecutive Fridays the district will not hold classes to allow teachers to make up planning time and help students who've missed school catch up on work.

As of Friday afternoon, 882 students and 133 staff had tested positive for COVID-19 this week, down from the 1,025 students and 224 staffers who returned positive tests last week.

Nearly 3,000 students and more than 500 staff members were in quarantine as of Friday, as well. Last week, nearly 3,500 students and 641 staff were in exclusion.

While there were no major closures at LPS because of staffing issues since LPS announced it would temporarily close school on Fridays, a handful of classrooms have gone remote.

They include:

* Independence Academy sites at The Bay, Zion Church and Moore Middle School.

* Two early-childhood classrooms at Campbell Elementary School.

* A life-skills program at Goodrich Middle School.

Those classrooms are all expected to return to in-person learning next week.

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Five uplifting stories in another challenging year for schools

So long, Zoom. Hello again, masks. Schools are still adjusting to a new normal, but the resilience of teachers and students hasn't changed. K-12 education reporter Zach Hammack sums up his favorite uplifting stories from the classroom in 2021.

Contact the writer at zhammack@journalstar.com or 402-473-7225. On Twitter @zach_hammack

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K-12 education reporter

Zach Hammack, a 2018 UNL graduate, has always called Lincoln home. He previously worked as a copy editor at the Journal Star and was a reporting intern in 2017. Now, he covers students, teachers and schools as the newspaper’s K-12 reporter.

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