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Safety measures keeping kids in school

Safety measures keeping kids in school

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This week marked nine weeks that our students and staff have been back in school under our Reimagined model — with most students doing in-person learning. We are grateful to our Board of Education and staff members that we are able to deliver both options for families. For about 15% of our population, virtual is the best situation and we will continue to support those families. For about 85% of our families, keeping learning going at school is critical.

Our students are adjusting to the many changes this year has brought us. From preschool to the high school, our students and staff members are doing a great job following the COVID-19 safety measures so we can stay in school as long as possible.

We in Grand Island Public Schools are committed to keeping students and staff members as safe as possible from this virus. Masks, social distancing and hand hygiene are critical.

Last week, we sent a survey to our staff members. Of the more than 900 responses, 92% said GIPS COVID-19 safety protocols are helping to keep our students and staff safe, with 93.8% supporting masks and 94.5% giving their overall support for GIPS COVID-19 safety protocols.

We are trying everything we can to keep schools open. We want to be able to stay in our current Reimagined model. However, if our community COVID-19 numbers keep rising, we may have no choice but to switch to the Select or Remote models that either significantly limit in-person learning, or worse, return us to 100% virtual learning.

Last week I had the privilege of meeting with my Student Advisory Council at Grand Island Senior High.

Our students asked me, “Dr. Grover, what are you doing to advocate for us to stay in school?” They shared how being in school on site is very important to them, as it was difficult for them when we were shut down in the spring. I also have personally heard from students who told me their mental health suffered in the spring. One student told me, “Dr. Grover, we were struggling.”

The high school students I spoke with told me they are grateful for the protocols our district has implemented, including proper mask wearing. They reminded me that it’s not about the mask itself, it’s about the reasons behind wearing the masks. They know that wearing masks helps to protect others around them.

Students know and understand wearing masks will help them, their peers and friends to stay in school and to participate in activities. Our students don’t want to miss out on their special moments that come from being in school.

So, I’m reaching out to our community to advocate for our kids. We want to keep our students in school and participating in activities, as long as it is safe to do so.

Thank you for helping us to reach this nine week mark of being in school. This is a critical time in our community. We still need your help. Our kids still need your help.

Let’s unite, Grand Island. We are all better and stronger together.

We don’t want students to miss out on more opportunities. I know you feel the same way, so please, do it for our kids.

Mask up so our kids don’t miss out.

Dr. Tawana Grover is superintendent of Grand Island Public Schools.

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