An Omaha school prepares to reopen its classrooms

Published: Jun. 22, 2020 at 5:28 PM CDT
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About half the students at Nelson Mandela Elementary will return to school July 6th.

The year round school will have several new rules and restrictions. One of those rules include wearing a mask.

"And if we don't have enough masks we won't be opening up July 6th. We want to make sure we have the proper PPE. We want to make sure our scholars feel safe," the school's principal, Genevive Core, said.

The school is also looking at getting face shields and goggles for students as an alternative.

When students return to school their day will begin with a screening.

"Before they even walk through the door we're going to be taking temperatures at the car," Core explained.

Students will be asked a series of questions about possible symptoms. They'll also be given a smell test.

If they pass the screening they will be allowed to enter through the front doors.

"We usually have an assembly in the morning when we're all gathered in the gym. We're eliminating that. We'll just go to the intercom system," Core said.

Instead students will head to their classrooms where hand sanitizer machines were installed. Students will have breakfast in their classrooms, and then they'll start learning.

"We're looking at about eight to nine scholars on average in every classroom. So we can easily distance them in the classroom," Core explained.

During recess students will not be able to play on the playground equipment, but the school has come up with some alternatives.

"We're going to teach them some games that they can play outside at recess that will keep them at a distance, but still be able to have some fun," Core said.

Other areas like the gym will be off limits, but teachers are encouraged to spend more time outdoors with students.

"If they have a book or read aloud they can go outside and enjoy some learning outside," Core added.

Core said the school's staff, parents, and community members helped with the reopening process.

"So they were apart of those discussions, and I think that helped bring down some level of anxiety because they know what's in place, and they also have a hand in making sure something is in place," she said.

Core added that she hopes the students will enjoy being back in the building.

"It's just not the teacher teaching. The social interaction is important for them to learn from one another," she said.

Parents were given the option to keep their child at home for online learning for this term. About 90 students are expected to return on July 6th.

The school plans to hold a virtual meeting with families to discuss all safety procedures and requirements for returning.

Nelson Mandela Elementary School also plans to hold a celebration for its graduating 5th grade class at a later date.