Omaha elementary school reflects on returning back to school amid pandemic

Nelson Mandela elementary students returned to school in July.
Published: Aug. 5, 2020 at 5:48 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - As most students return to class next week, teachers, administrators, and parents don’t quite know what to expect.

One local elementary school already has some answers.

Nelson Mandela is a year-round school, and about half of their students returned to class in July to finish out their term.

“The scholars did great. They loved their masks. They loved using hand sanitizer as much as they could,” Genevive Core, the school’s principal, said.

Core said everything was going well until there was a positive Covid-19 case.

“We didn’t have anyone else infected by the classroom Covid case,” she said.

Core believes the lack of spread was due to everyone following safety precautions put in place. There were frequent hand washing, temperature checks, and social distancing.

“There was not time that they were clustered together in a group without their mask,” she explained.

Students were also screened by their parents and then again before entering the building.

“We were able to check every scholar in the car by doing a temperature check and a smell check, and asking them those Covid symptom questions,” Core said.

The principal says the school did their best to communicate with the families of that specific classroom first.

“We definitely contacted all of the scholar’s families in that classroom. The minute we found out, we were on the phone talking to them so that they knew that they needed to watch for symptoms,” Core explained.

Several parents decided to continue with online learning for the remainder of the term.

As all 250 students get ready to return for a new term, Core said communicating with all parents is something they plan to make a priority.

“We consider ourselves a family here at Nelson Mandela, and the families need to know what’s going on because they can hear from every direction and it could be wrong information,” she said. “And we want to make sure they get the correct information from us.”

Core said those safety guidelines will remain in place, and more accommodations have been made to handle more students.

“The classrooms that have tables will have plexiglass to divide the scholars. So this is putting a lot of our teachers at ease to have that extra protection,” she said.

She also added that one thing will not change.

“Wearing masks will be mandated at our school. And it’s working so we’re not going to change that,” Core added.

The school plans to focus on not only academics but the social and emotional health of the returning students.

Copyright 2020 WOWT. All rights reserved.

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