LPS temporarily cancels classes on Fridays to combat staffing shortages

(10/11 NOW)
Published: Jan. 14, 2022 at 9:59 AM CST|Updated: Jan. 14, 2022 at 10:46 AM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Lincoln Public Schools is implementing new strategies to address a large number of students missing school and on-going staffing shortages.

The most significant change will be the cancellation of classes for students on Fridays for three weeks starting with Jan. 21. They are calling these COVID Response Fridays. The only exception is for The Career Academy classes that will be in session in consideration of dual credit instructional hour requirements and scheduling limitations.

LPS buildings will remain open on these days and staff will be working. Elementary and before and after school programs (CLCs) and middle school extracurricular activities and after school programs (CLCs) will be closed. High school student extracurricular activities and athletic practices and events will continue as scheduled. High school CLCs will be closed. COVID Response Fridays will be on Jan. 21, Jan. 28, and Feb. 4.

The LPS COVID dashboard shows 2,604 students and 349 staff members across the district have been out this week including a total of 924 positive COVID cases.

“The recent rapid rise of COVID-19 cases has created a significant crisis. We have a large number of students who are missing classes due to illness, and they are struggling to make up that missed instruction,” said LPS Superintendent Steve Joel. “Another key issue for us continues to be ensuring we have sufficient staff in our schools to continue safely serving all students every single day. We need to think outside the box and look at all of our options.”

LPS said using district-wide COVID Response Fridays will aid students who are home due to illness as they will be able to receive staff support virtually on work they have missed. This will also allow staff to recoup valuable planning and work time lost to covering extra classes Monday through Thursday.

“We understand this can cause extra stress for families, and do not make this decision lightly,” added Joel. “These are not days off. Staff will still be working and supporting students. This is a temporary tool we can use to help everyone catch up, and ensure prudent staffing levels when students are present in our buildings.”

Other strategies announced by LPS include:

  • Planning for temporary classroom, program or school to move to remote learning if necessary: LPS will be able to temporarily move any K-12 classrooms, whole grade levels or entire school buildings to 100% remote learning if it is determined there are not sufficient staff available to safely operate. This is not something that will be used district-wide, only on a case-by-case basis. Students in quarantine will not be able to remote into in-person classrooms - only if the entire class is remote. Students and families can access this website for resources to assist them while their child is quarantining.
  • Proactive remote learning preparation for K-12 students: In the event we do have to temporarily move a classroom, program or school to remote learning, we will be holding teacher-led practice sessions for K-12 students over the next week. This will give teachers and students the confidence to switch from in-person to remote if needed.

“Our community and our families have always been supportive and understanding, and for that we are grateful. Getting through this surge will take everyone doing their part to support one another,” said Joel.

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