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OPS students transition back to 5 days of in-person learning

Published: Feb. 2, 2021 at 12:42 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Tuesday marked another “first” for the Omaha Public Schools district. It was the first day that some elementary and middle students were back in the classroom to learn in-person, 5 days a week.

Dr. Kimberly Jackson is the principal of Morton Middle School. She helped greet the students this morning, many of whom haven’t been to school full-time in nearly a year.

“Just like any other first day you had a mixture of different responses. Most were tickled pink. Some of them haven’t seen their classmates on the opposite alphabet since the last march,” she said.

Up to Tuesday, OPS was operating on the 3/2 learning model, in which certain groups of students would learn in-person on certain days. The other days, they’d learn from home.

With the return of more students to elementary and middle schools, and a pandemic ongoing, it was important for schools in the district to make sure their safety measures were up to snuff

For example, at Morton, more desks were moved into some classrooms and bigger tables were moved out of others to allow for better social distancing.

“There’s also an extensive spray-down of each of the desks and after that, students don’t touch anything until they leave the room and the next class comes in,” said Dr. Jackson.

An extra lunch period was also added so fewer students will be together in a setting where masks are not being worn.

While some things did change with the influx of students, others aren’t changing at all.

“We already did staggered dismissal and passing periods, so we just maintained those things because we felt they were best practice anyway.”

Of course, every student, teacher, and a staff member will continue to wear a mask throughout the day.

Dr. Jackson says in recent weeks, more families have shown interest in sending their kids back to school Monday through Friday.

“It seems like measures that we’re taking have found a level of trust in the community enough that the majority of change that we’re seeing was not folks going away from in-person because they felt the increased numbers were going to be concerning enough to go remote, but vice versa with remote to in-person.”

OPS is keeping the remote learning program in place for the families who feel it’s their best and safest option right now.

High school students in the district will go back to in-person learning, 5 days a week, Wednesday, February 17th.

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