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We can get through this, Grand Island

We can get through this, Grand Island

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Grand Island, we want to #LetThemPlay, #LetThemPerform and, most importantly, #LetThemStayInSchool. We need your help.

The Grand Island Public Schools Board of Education is thrilled our schools are open and high school activities are happening. We want to do all we can to keep the schools open and keep the kids playing and performing the entire 2020-21 school year. It was heartbreaking when we closed schools and stopped activities in March. Some of the people most upset by this were our administrators, teachers and all staff. They love kids and their hearts hurt seeing so much being taken away. They know the best place for the majority of our kids to learn is in person, and we know families count on schools being open.

There are two main reasons why the schools were able to open on time. First, the extraordinary efforts and courage of our superintendent, Dr. Tawana Grover, and all of the GIPS teachers and staff. Second, the community’s attention to wearing masks, washing hands, keeping distance and avoiding large gatherings. We are incredibly grateful for everyone’s teamwork to make it happen. We crushed the curve in Grand Island; now we need to keep it from redeveloping.

Our kids are doing great in school with all the extra safety precautions. It’s a good reminder of how resilient, gritty and responsible our kids are when called upon.

In mitigating the risk of schools closing again or activities having to stop, we have to use the most up-to-date and accurate information available to us from a host of experts (Centers for Disease Control, Central District Health Department, Nebraska Department of Education, medical professionals, etc.). The entire world is learning as we go through this pandemic, and the long-term effects of the virus will not be known for possibly years. We have to take the most conservative approaches to keep the virus at bay within the GIPS system. We can’t afford not to; we are responsible for more than 10,000 students and 1,500 staff members. We can’t take a chance on being wrong about the seriousness or long-term impacts of this pandemic.

Tough, tough decisions have to be made. We know some decisions are unpopular and respect differing opinions. We ask for grace and understanding from our families and community as we do what we believe is in the best interests of our kids. We wish everyone in the community could understand the weeks, days and hours that go into making the decisions, and then the logistics required to carry out the decisions. The district’s pandemic team agonizes over every decision, keeping the priorities established as their guides. Kids’ education and experiences are always, always our North Star.

Everyone needs to understand the pandemic team is constantly re-evaluating decisions. As things change, we will adapt as needed. We’ll implement additional restrictions if current conditions call for it, and in turn we’ll ease up on restrictions when it is deemed safe to do so.

Our kids have risen to the challenge, and now we ask the community to match their efforts. What happens in the community impacts what will happen in the schools and vice versa. Please continue to mask up, wash your hands, social distance and avoid large gatherings. Also, don’t forget to get your flu shot early.

We got this, Grand Island. We can #LetThemPlay, #LetThemPerform, and #LetThemStayInSchool for all of 2020-2021. The kids deserve it.

The Grand Island Public Schools Board of Education consists of Bonnie Hinkle, president; Dr. Dan Brosz, vice president; Lisa Albers, Carlos Barcenas, Terry Brown, Kelly Enck, Julie Gortemaker and Erika Wolfe.

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