Grand Island Public Schools will allow visiting fans from Norfolk to attend this Friday’s home football game at Grand Island Senior High.
At a community update Wednesday morning, broadcast on GITV, the city of Grand Island’s public access channel, GIPS Superintendent Tawana Grover announced the news, which is a shift from the district’s previous policy not to allow any visiting fans at Memorial Stadium.
Grover said that during the past few weeks, GIPS has evaluated its visiting fans policy and realized that “what may be working today may not work tomorrow,” which led to the district changing its policy.
“As we go forward, as long as we continue to hold athletic events, we want to do everything we can to ensure that all students can be supported with family members present,” she said. “After all, we teach hearts as well as minds.”
With the recent increase in COVID-19 cases in the Central District Health Department, Grover said this may lead to fewer in-person classes and, subsequently, no athletic events or extracurricular activities. She said this is why it is important for everyone in Grand Island and visiting fans from other communities to wear a mask to keep everyone safe from COVID-19.
According to the COVID-19 dashboard on the GIPS website, 156 students and 43 staff members have been absent due to COVID-19 as of Oct. 9.
‘A dangerous period’
During the update Wednesday, Grand Island Mayor Roger Steele said that six medical experts from the University of Nebraska Medical Center reported last week that Nebraska is “entering a dangerous period in the COVID-19 pandemic” with the state’s hospitalizations now surpassing May’s highs.
He added that these experts reported that Nebraska’s hospitals are currently 85% full, compared with 50% full in April and May.
Steele said the CDHD has reported a rise in COVID-19 cases, with 99 new cases reported for the week ending Oct. 10.
“We all know what we need to do to control the virus. We cannot let ourselves get complacent in believing that everything has returned to normal,” he said. “We all have the power to slow the virus down by wearing masks and social distancing. I need your help to control the virus without the city taking strict measures, such as lockdowns, like we had to do last spring.”
Steele also discussed his 14 days in quarantine due to COVID-19 exposure. He said this was “very disruptive” to him as he had a loss of income due to being self-employed, and was unable to attend various meetings in his capacity as mayor.
Steele urged Grand Islanders to protect themselves from the coronavirus, for both health and monetary reasons, by continuing to follow COVID-19 safety protocols such as wearing a face mask, social distancing and washing hands as much as possible.
Grover: Follow protocols
Grover said that, according to a GIPS survey, one-third of parents surveyed said that school closing in the spring affected their ability to remain employed due to the lack of child care or their need to be at home to help their students with learning. This is why it is critical, she said, for the Grand Island community to continue to follow COVID-19 safety protocols and keep students in school.
“We need to understand that what is happening in our community does adversely impact schools,” Grover said. “We do not want to switch to a remote model. We are not panicking, but we are paying very close attention to the numbers.”
Steele said he, Grover and GIPS share this goal.
“We must keep our rate of infection very low so our schools can remain open and our local economy can function,” he said. “Over the past few weeks, I have told you how I worked with business leaders to ensure our economy does well. I depend on GIPS for its help in this endeavor.”
Get local news delivered to your inbox!
Subscribe to our Daily Headlines newsletter.