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GIPS removes mandatory masking, brings back Friday classes

GIPS to remove requirement for mandatory masking, effective Monday, Feb. 21.
GIPS to remove requirement for mandatory masking, effective Monday, Feb. 21.(KSNB)
Published: Feb. 17, 2022 at 4:27 PM CST
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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - Grand Island Public Schools will move to making masks recommended and bring back Friday classes, effective Monday, Feb. 21.

The district will return to protocols highlighted in the district Safe Return to School Plan Addendum which may be found on the GIPS website.

Masks will not be mandatory, only recommended, for both during and after school hours for students, staff, families, and visitors.

One place where masks will still be required is while riding district-provided transportation per Federal Law.

Back on January 17, the school district announced the move to four-day week with it going into effect on January 21.

The shorter weeks were initially put in place to lower the number of illness-related absences with both students and teachers and to also give teachers more time to plan out their weeks.

GIPS Superintendent Dr. Tawana Grover spoke with Local4 last week and said they had gotten positive responses from their educators in regard to the change.

“Them having that one additional day really, to plan their lessons, they’re more prepared for the students when they come in and so, just their feedback has been a lot of gratitude and appreciation for the flexibility of our parents as well as our school district,” Dr. Grover said.

Dr. Grover said in a release on Thursday, “we understand there may be concerns about support for those who choose to wear masks and those who don’t. Those concerns are valid and are top of mind for our leadership and teachers. We’d like to affirm, for you and our students, that we remain committed to cultivating inclusive environments within our schools.”

Dr. Grover said the district will monitor the fluid situation of the pandemic reviewing related data and updating the dashboard on a daily basis. She said a scenario could arise of which we may revert back to universal masking if deemed necessary or mandated by the state or local officials.

“These past weeks were unprecedented and found us facing unprecedented measures in terms of the pandemic and the goal of keeping our buildings open,” said Grover. “Thankfully, we have reached a point where we can, once again, feel more confident in moving forward to masks being recommended and not mandatory.”

Grover said “We appreciate our families as well as our students for their agility and ability to value our short term adjustments in navigating the pandemic. We appreciate our community for the sacrifices they’ve made for the collective good of our students and staff and for their continued trust. It is with their support and understanding that we have been able to maintain in-person learning all year long to date.”

The district’s pandemic data has shown a downward trend.

On February 9, there were 195 students and 49 staff who were marked absent for illness. That number the lowest it’s been since December.

In the last seven days, there are six positive COVID cases at four of the schools.

You can view the CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE COVID-19 Dashboard

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