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Beatrice schools close due to COVID-19
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Beatrice schools close due to COVID-19

Teachers, students and parents entered Beatrice Public Schools buildings on Tuesday before a two-week closure due to CDC-recommended safety precautions for the 2019 Novel Coronavirus, or COVID-19.

David Jespersen, a public information officer for the Nebraska Department of Education, released a statement Monday evening that all schools across the state move to an alternate learning structure where no students report to a traditional school setting. He said schools should be prepared to remain that way for six to eight weeks, reviewing operations and considering re-opening on a two week basis.

Beatrice, Bruning-Davenport, Deshler, Diller-Odell, Fairbury, Freeman, Lewiston, Meridian, Southern, Thayer Central, Tri County and Wymore all closed their doors on Tuesday. This includes St. Joseph Catholic School and Saint Paul’s Lutheran School in Beatrice, as well. Schools are scheduled to return on March 31 at the earliest.

Southeast Community College announced on Thursday that classes are canceled from March 16-20, extending students’ spring break through March 27.

Beatrice Community Preschool teachers prepared learning packets with crayons and other activities for students to study while schools are closed.

Beatrice High School teachers created online learning classes, where teachers will be available to contact from 8:15-11:30 a.m. and 1-3:30 p.m. on weekdays to provide assistance. The schedule for the online learning classes is periods one and two on Mondays, periods three and four on Tuesdays, period five and work-time on Wednesdays, periods six and seven on Thursdays and period eight and work-time on Fridays.

Assistant Superintendent Jackie Nielsen said updates and additional information will be sent to parents and guardians, as well as posted on the school and district websites and Facebook pages.

Jespersen said the NDE was granted approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to serve meals to students at approved sites within communities.

“All schools with a student population of more than 50% free and reduced priced lunch have the opportunity to provide meals through the Summer Food Service Program, whether or not they have participated in the program,” Jespersen said. “Those schools will first need to complete an application and questionnaire. Once approved, schools will be able to provide these meals to any student, regardless of their enrollment.”

BPS is distributing free meals to kids age 1-18 from 11a.m.-12p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Mondays and Wednesdays will provide two breakfasts and two lunches, and Fridays will provide one breakfast and one lunch.

Kids need to be present when the meal is handed out. Distribution locations are the north parking lot at Lincoln Elementary School, the east parking lot at Paddock Lane Elementary School, the southwest teacher parking lot at Stoddard Elementary School and Fourth Street heading north at Beatrice Middle School.

As for state testing, BHS juniors will no longer take the ACT test on Tuesday, March 24.

Jespersen said the NDE is suspending summative statewide assessments or NSCAS for the 2019-2020 school year. He said NDE intends to pursue federal waivers for testing, accountability and reporting requirements, as well as work with the ACT organization to see if all public high school juniors can take the statewide assessment at a later date free-of-charge.

Additional information and a meal application can be found at education.ne.gov/ns/

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