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115 teachers in Omaha get $400 bonuses after companies, donors team up
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115 teachers in Omaha get $400 bonuses after companies, donors team up

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Educators have had a tough year.

In the spring, schools closed for in-person learning, forcing teachers to pivot to remote learning.

This fall brought a return to in-person learning, but it came with mask mandates, enhanced cleaning procedures, gallons of hand sanitizer, quarantines and occasional returns to remote learning.

In recognition of the work done by teachers this year, several companies have stepped up to give bonuses and personal protective equipment to teachers in the metro area.

Companies Scoular, Buildertrend and Home Instead, an anonymous corporate donor and an anonymous donor gave a total of $50,000 to provide $400 year-end bonuses to 115 teachers.

The bonuses will go to teachers who work for the Omaha Street School, the NorthStar Foundation and the CUES School System. CUES assists Sacred Heart, All Saints and Holy Name Catholic Schools.

Omaha Street School Principal Anthony Williams said that after the difficult year, it means a lot for teachers to be recognized for their efforts. He said that teachers had to adapt to conditions thrust upon them and that they continued to show up to teach despite the risks to themselves and their families.

Williams said teachers enter the profession knowing there is way more work than compensation.

“Folks get into this line of work because they want to positively impact kids,” Williams said.

After doing remote learning in the spring, students and teachers returned to the Omaha Street School in August. The school was able to do in-person lessons for 90% of the semester before COVID-19 forced two weeks of remote learning at the end of the semester.

Williams said his teachers and students made sacrifices to make in-person learning work. He said no one wanted to return to remote learning because the school saw a 40%-50% drop in engagement last spring when schools closed.

“A good majority of our kids would prefer in-person and don’t engage much when they do remote,” Williams said.

The Elkhorn Public Schools were given a $60,000 donation of classroom shields by Harbor, a Michigan-based design and build firm. The shields will be used in classrooms, media centers, learning pods and extracurricular activities.

In elementary classrooms, the shields will allow teachers to help students in closer proximity. Small-group teaching assistance is part of the district’s reading and math intervention programs.

“The continued support we receive from our community is vital to our students being able to remain in school for in-person learning, and we sincerely appreciate Harbor’s generosity,” said Elkhorn Public Schools Superintendent Bary Habrock in a press release.

Emily Nitcher's favorite stories of 2020

The pandemic caused major disruptions to K-12 education in Nebraska and elsewhere. Students, parents and educators faced tough decisions and circumstances in 2020.

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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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