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Beatrice superintendent discusses COVID-19 cases

Beatrice superintendent discusses COVID-19 cases

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Following the several COVID-19 cases found in Beatrice Public Schools, a dashboard has been linked to the district website to update the community on the number of active cases there are, and what school is involved. As of Thursday, there are eight total cases: six from Lincoln Elementary, and two from Beatrice High School.

Superintendent Jason Alexander explained that the two high school cases were staff members who had household contact with the individuals from the elementary school. Lincoln moved to tier four remote learning on Wednesday, August 19 until early September.

Parents were notified Tuesday that all other buildings in the district will remain in tier two with in-person attendance. The bus shuttle from Lincoln Elementary to Stoddard Elementary will still be in operation, with students reporting outside to the northeast side of the building.

Due to the possibility of more COVID-19 cases throughout the district, BPS will require the use of face covering effective immediately without an opt-out option.

“We’ve taken what we consider to be the hot spot, and removed it,” Alexander said. “Even though at the high school there’s two cases, we feel like we know why there’s two cases there, so we’re monitoring the rest of the buildings to make sure there’s not a sustainable threat. If we determine that there’s a sustainable concern, then we will take the necessary steps to mitigate that.”

All currently confirmed cases at BPS involved people wearing masks, as it’s a requirement for district staff, and Alexander said all staff have been asked to self-monitor for symptoms. He said the district was notified about the cases by the individuals themselves, and that Public Health Solutions also contacted them through doing a contact tracing investigation.

Alexander said he is frustrated that the district has to handle the COVID-19 cases, but not with the individuals themselves as symptoms occur at different times, if at all.

“There is no way that we can require people to get tests, as well,” Alexander said. “We can recommend that they get tested, but we cannot require it.”

Lincoln students were sent home Tuesday afternoon with either a Chromebook or an iPad to complete the online learning. Alexander said a barcode system was put in place over the summer so the technology could be checked out like a library book in cases where schools need to transition to online learning quickly. Also, with all students learning remotely last spring, the district had already worked to order enough technology for each student, as well as provide hotspots for the students that needed internet.

Dawn Holthus, the district’s director of school nutrition, released a statement to Lincoln parents that meals will be available for each school day. Each meal will include lunch for the current day, as well as breakfast for the following day, and can be picked up from the school’s north parking lot between 11:30a.m. and 12p.m. on weekdays.

The statement asked those using the meal service to complete a survey so the school can get an estimate. Holthus said the student’s name and their lunch code will be needed to pick up the meals.

Alexander said he appreciates the people working with and supporting the district to keep students and teachers in the school buildings as much as possible.

“Above all, our plans were designed to keep as many students in school for as long as it’s safe to do so,” Alexander said in a public statement. “That’s what we all want. It’s better for the children, and it’s better for working families. We know that. But we also know the realities of this virus are changing our circumstances every day. And while we’d love to be able to make a single policy and stick to it, the safety of your children and our staff will clearly require us to make frequent adjustments this year.”

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