Omaha Public Schools students will attend school five days a week starting next month.
The largest school district in the state made the announcement Tuesday afternoon in a letter to students and families. The letter said elementary and middle schools will transition to five days in-person per week on Feb. 2. High schools will transition to five days in-person per week on Feb. 17.
There will be no school for elementary and middle school students on Feb. 1 and no school for high school students on Feb. 16.
Remote learning will continue to be an option for students. The letter told families to contact their students’ school if they want to change how their student is learning.
It will be the first time this school year and the first time since March that OPS students will attend school in-person five days a week.
Since in-person lessons resumed in October, the district has been following the Family 3/2 model. Under that model, students throughout the district are divided into two groups, each of which attends school in person part of the week.
That model will continue until the February transition dates.
“Five days of in-person academic, social and emotional instruction will best help our students move forward,” Superintendent Cheryl Logan said in the letter to families. “Though routines will look different, we will keep responsible operations at the forefront as a local and national leader in school health and safety.”
OPS teachers have been told they could receive COVID-19 vaccines between late January and March. Under the state’s vaccination plan, people 75 and older should receive the vaccine ahead of teachers and other essential workers.
When educators are vaccinated, the state will rely on local school leaders to determine which of their employees are so essential to keeping schools operating that they should be offered the vaccination.
Bridget Blevins, spokeswoman for OPS, said the district has ongoing conversations with state and local partners to plan so OPS is ready to connect interested staff when doses are ready.
Blevins said state and local health departments can best speak to when vaccines will be available for teachers.
When asked why the district is returning to in-person lessons five days a week now, Blevins said the in-person instruction will best help students move forward after a year of significant disruption.
“Many students throughout our metro area are attending in person each day,” Blevins said. “We have an opportunity to begin our academic acceleration work in the remaining months of this school year and we owe it to our young people.”
On Monday, the Douglas County Health Department reported 160 new cases of COVID-19 and four additional deaths. The number of deaths in the county connected to the pandemic is 522.
The Health Department reported medical and surgical beds were at 74% occupancy with 394 beds available, and adult ICU beds are occupied at a 65% rate with 118 beds available.