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Gretna offers free COVID-19 tests to students

Gretna offers free COVID-19 tests to students

Free COVID-19 testing will be offered in the parking lot of Gretna High School on Thursday after more than 40 positive student cases were traced back to a large gathering.

Gretna Public Schools Superintendent Rich Beran said the gathering took place outside of school. He said the testing is not mandatory.

A note sent to families said the cases have been traced back to a large gathering on Oct. 3.

Wednesday evening, Beran declined to identify the event attended by Gretna students.

At a press conference Wednesday afternoon, Douglas County Health Director Adi Pour urged people to take personal responsibility, and said families and parents need to decide what’s “too high risk at this time.” She cited a homecoming party attended by 200 people, hosted by a parent outside of Omaha, that has been connected to a “huge outbreak” of the virus. Pour did not say specifically where the party occurred.

Testing at Gretna High School is being offered through a partnership with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services and the Nebraska Public Health Lab.

Sarpy/Cass Health Department Director Sarah Schram said she’s not aware of any other school offering testing like what’s being done in Gretna on Thursday.

Many school districts are finishing up the first quarter of the school year. Schram said that up until this point many schools have done a good job of mitigating the virus’ spread in the school environment.

But situations in the community can affect the school environment, Schram said. She encouraged people to wash their hands, wear masks and socially distance.

Beran said the situation is frustrating given how many precautions have been put in place to keep kids safe during the school week. He said it’s extremely hard on staff to teach some kids in person, others remotely for a two-week quarantine period and students who opted to do remote learning, all at the same time.

The superintendent thanked the students and parents who have followed the advice of health experts to refrain from large gatherings and to wear a mask when social distancing is not possible.

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Emily covers K-12 education, including Omaha Public Schools. Previously, Emily covered local government and the Nebraska Legislature for The World-Herald. Follow her on Twitter @emily_nitcher. Phone: 402-444-1192.

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