HPS addresses concerns with back to school plan

Published: Jul. 29, 2020 at 5:52 PM CDT
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HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - Going back to school has not been easy for school districts to plan. This week Hastings Public Schools outlined its plans to parents at a virtual town hall and it led to a few concerns.

HPS is leaving the decision to be in or out of the building up to families. Students have until July 31 to sign up for the e-learning option. Many parents are asking for more details on e-learning before they sign up. Superintendent Jeff Schneider said they are still working out how the program will look.

“I know it’s not as timely as people want it but COVID simply doesn’t allow that,” Schneider said. “We’re not sure what the health guidelines are going to be on August 18th. Unfortunately we’re going to have to make decisions and make a plan and go forward with it. But I can tell you at any point in time we could change those plans.”

They need to see how many students sign up before they can designate the teachers. The school district ordered more computers at the end of the school year and they have not received them. Schneider believes they will arrive in time for school this year. Students who request online learning still have the option to return to the building within the first nine weeks of the school year. If a student wants to opt into online learning after the school year starts it will be a longer process.

All students who return to classrooms will be required to have face coverings and to social distance. Many parents commented they do not believe face coverings should be required. The school board will be making the official vote on the issue on August 10. Schneider said he would be shocked if they did not approve it. Those who do not want to abide by the rule can opt for at-home learning or get a doctors note to exempt them.

Schneider admits e-learning isn't as good as in-person learning since there is a lack of human interaction, but it is a good alternative with the health concerns.

“It is going to be a regular daily school process,” Schneider said. “It obviously won’t be the same as sending your kid to the building for seven and a half hours. But it will be a regular check-in with an adult that is assigned to your student.”

HPS also outlined the process for cleaning, temperature checks, and will submit a plan to the health district on how to handle if anyone tests positive. If any student or staff member has a temperature of 100.4 or higher they will be sent home.

“So we will have a protocol for that in place of who we’re going to notify and when but we’ll get that approved through South Heartland Health and we’ll actually share that protocol with our parents and staff members prior to doing it,” Schneider said.

That plan will be shared with parents when it is approved.

You can read more about the plans here.

Copyright 2020 KSNB. All rights reserved.

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