OMAHA — Nebraska’s largest school district has announced it will begin in-person classes a week earlier than planned and require all students, staff and others to wear masks on school grounds to try to fight the spread of the coronavirus.
The Omaha Public Schools board Monday approved changes to the upcoming school year, including a new start date of Aug. 11 and an extension of the winter break by one week.
Exceptions to wearing a mask would be made when people are eating, drinking, with members of their household in a separate space or participating in athletic activities with proper social and physical distancing.
Last week, school district officials announced plans to have students attend school part-time. The plan divides students into two groups who would each attend school in person during different days of the week.
Students whose names start with A through K would attend every Monday and Tuesday. Those starting with L through Z would attend every Thursday and Friday. Wednesdays would alternate between the groups. On days students aren't in school, they will participate in remote learning from home.
The new policies and schedule apply to all of the district's more than 52,000 students.
During Monday night's board meeting, some parents complained that the part-time schedule will be a burden on working parents and noted that surrounding school districts plan to fully reopen.
Superintendent Cheryl Logan said the Omaha district has had crowded classrooms for many years, especially in South Omaha, and to reopen schools in those crowded conditions would put too many people at risk.
“None of us want to be in this position right now,” Logan said. “We all want to have our students back 100% of the time.”
Concerned about COVID-19?
Sign up now to get the most recent coronavirus headlines and other important local and national news sent to your email inbox daily.