Omaha Public Schools meets ahead of reopenings

Published: Aug. 4, 2020 at 6:46 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - A final, urgent plea came Tuesday night from teachers and parents in the Omaha Public Schools District.

School starts next week and many are still torn about the best way to move forward.

Teachers and parents lined up to plea for a completely virtual beginning to the new school year.

Their concerns are with state leaders who won’t implement stricter health mandates. They want OPS to lead the way as the district plans to return to in-person classes, by implementing a Family 3/2 schedule, amid the pandemic.

“We are not fully valuing the lives of our children if policymakers continue to roadblock responsible pandemic response,” said boardmember Amanda Ryan.

Omaha-area teachers held a rally in Memorial Park on Monday to call attention to OPS teachers’ desire to see total remote learning in spite of the district’s planned safety protocols.

With OPS students returning to school after five months, the district says it is focused on safety and education.

“I want to take every opportunity I can to directly at this point plea to the governor to stop threatening lawsuits withholding money and using every ounce of power that he has to do what doctors are telling us not to,” said boardmember Ben Perlman.

The subject of face masks was also part of Tuesday night’s discussion, with Ryan calling out the governor for pushing back on local mask mandates. She said schools learning should be fully remote because enough isn’t being done to protect the community from COVID-19.

Pearlman echoed her sentiments, saying the threat of lawsuits and withholding CARES Act money only hurts the state, and Omaha.

“How many of our kids or teachers will have to die before we move to remote learning. Is there an acceptable percentage of death within the first day weeks or months,” said Sheri Porter, a parent of an OPS student.

The minority in the crowd was in favor of in-person learning. School is set to start Tuesday.

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