KEARNEY – As a precautionary measure, Kearney Public Schools is adjusting their COVID-19 Risk Dial to a low-level ORANGE and have added teacher training and workdays to deal with the challenges of teaching during this pandemic.
“While our schools have not experienced an increase in the number of students testing positive for COVID-19, nor have we witnessed spread of the virus in an identifiable way in our schools, the spread of the virus in our community has raised our level of concern,” explains Dr. Kent Edwards, KPS Superintendent. “Out of caution for our students and staff, the entire district will move to a low-level orange on our risk dial.”
According to Edwards, moving to a low-level Orange will increase awareness of our protocols and modify a few practices in the schools going forward. Some of these changes may include assigned seating at lunches and/or staggered releases from classes or school. KCLC will continue to run as normal. The Orange level does not move the district into remote learning. The KPS COVID-19 Blueprint can be found on the KPS website at kearneypublicschools.org.
Edwards explained that if there is a spike in a particular school population, there may be a short-term closure aimed at that specific location to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and for extra cleaning and sanitization. “Ultimately, the decision to move to an all remote learning format will likely only occur following a mandate from Two Rivers Public Health Department or the Governor. We want the students to continue in a regular school environment that is healthy as well as beneficial for their education,” said Edwards. The decision to remain in school is one that is supported by the Two Rivers Public Health Department and their Director, Jeremy Eschliman, as noted by the linked letter from October 28, 2020.
“It takes a great amount of planning to conduct remote learning, especially while simultaneously teaching a busy classroom,” states Edwards. “Because of the additional preparation required for teaching and learning in both platforms, we are altering our school calendar. There will be no school, or KCLC, for students on December 11, 21, and 22 at all KPS schools. “This extended work time will allow teachers to be prepared for our many learning environments when we return for the second semester in January. Teachers will be planning, learning, and preparing to make our students’ education better and more meaningful, ” said Edwards.
The district is encouraging parents to wear masks and social distance in all public situations. Parents should be prepared with childcare options should they or their children be exposed to COVID-19 or have to be quarantined and participate in remote learning.
“We are moving into our Orange operational zone out of an abundance of caution for our students and to send a message to our community. Please wear masks in public to help stop the spread of COVID-19,” said Edwards.
With the new Directed Health Measures, occupancy rates for our athletic/activities facilities have been limited to 25%, which includes the participants and officials/coaches needed to run the events. With the new Directed Health Measures, this will cause the district to initiate the following responses:
- In wrestling, the Horizon and Sunrise Middle School gymnasiums only have the capacity to support the participants and two parents for both Horizon and Sunrise wrestlers. Visiting teams will not be able to have any spectators and no other attendees will be allowed. Most events will be live streamed and additional information will be provided upon request. Masks will be required and social distancing observed.
- At Kearney High School, seating for athletics is limited to four immediate family members only (reduced from six). No other attendees will be allowed. Masks and social distancing will be required. Specific seating and traffic flow directions will be provided by administrators and game management personnel.