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Millard district cancels in-person classes for Thanksgiving week because of COVID-19

Millard district cancels in-person classes for Thanksgiving week because of COVID-19


The Millard school district is canceling in-person learning during Thanksgiving week to scrub buildings and give students and staff time to complete their quarantines.

The district notified parents of the change Wednesday.

The students will learn remotely on Monday, Nov. 23, and Tuesday, Nov. 24, and will be off school for the rest of the week.

The plan is to have students return Monday, Nov. 30, after the holiday.

“We have been able to handle situations where COVID-19 is brought into our buildings on a case-by-case basis,” Superintendent Jim Sutfin wrote in an email to families. “Unfortunately, many of these cases have caused significant quarantines of students and staff.”

By canceling in-person learning for two days, it creates a nine-day span, including weekends, when students will not be in school.

Sutfin said the district has seen a “significant” increase in positive cases and quarantines over the past couple of weeks.

As of Wednesday, the district had 180 active cases in students and staff, according to its COVID-19 dashboard. The district is Nebraska’s third largest, with a combined total of 27,405 students and staff members. There were 1,044 students and staff in quarantine on Wednesday, which is 3.81% of its combined staff and students.

On Oct. 30, the district reported having 85 active cases and 273 students and staff quarantining.

Sutfin said this will be a chance for the district to “reset.”

The time off will allow for COVID-19 cases “to settle out” and allow people to finish quarantines “so that we can bring back a staff that is closer to full strength,” Sutfin wrote.

The temporary closure will allow for a deep cleaning of the district’s facilities, he wrote.

It also will allow time for Gov. Pete Ricketts’ latest directed health measure to have an effect, he wrote.

In response to rising hospitalizations and to slow the spread of the virus, Ricketts imposed new restrictions effective Wednesday.

The new measure requires masks and 6-foot distancing at certain events and locations, limits fans at indoor youth extracurricular activities and reduces the capacity allowed at indoor gatherings.

The remote learning for Millard students during the closure will be asynchronous, meaning that students will receive assignments for Monday and Tuesday of that week, but they will not have any set times to join in classes remotely via computer. Students will do the work on their own time.

Board member Mike Kennedy said closing for the week is in the best interest of students, teachers and the community.

He said Millard officials intend to keep schools open throughout the year, “as long as the conditions are right.”

“We just have an increase in quarantines,” he said. “We’ve got to keep a lid on it. Our commitment is to keep the schools open and keep the sports going. If we can’t get a bend in the numbers, we’re going to do it building by building, classroom by classroom.”

He said that while schools are closed, parents need to keep their kids away from situations where they could spread or contract the disease.

“Schools are doing everything they can,” Kennedy said. “We need the community to work on that.”

Sutfin, in his message for families, said it’s “extremely important” that during Thanksgiving break, family members “avoid the 3 C’s and wear a mask when you can’t social distance from people that are not a part of your immediate household.”

The three Cs refer to crowded places, close contact and confined spaces — the idea being that avoiding those things can slow the spread of the virus.

Our best staff images from November 2020, 402-444-1077

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Joe covers education for The World-Herald, focusing on pre-kindergarten through high school. Phone: 402-444-1077.

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