The Omaha Public Schools officials have announced that the district will join other metro-area school districts in not offering remote learning next school year.
The district’s remote learning program will end in May as the district plans to continue offering in-person lessons five days a week.
Remote learning was crucial to keeping student learning going during the pandemic. While it worked well for some students, others struggled. Earlier this year, The World-Herald found that high school and middle school students learning remotely during the first semester of the year had substantially higher course failure rates than in previous years.
Districts like OPS are now making plans to catch students up on learning they may have missed during the pandemic.
“Following a deep dive into first semester academic data, Omaha Public Schools developed a multi-year approach to address unfinished teaching and learning from the pandemic,” Superintendent Cheryl Logan said in a press release. “Reviewing data and talking with our educators, we know that consistent student engagement is essential in this call to action.”
Millard, Bellevue, Westside and Papillion La Vista have also said they have no plans to bring back remote learning next school year.
OPS will still offer an option for students who may not want to return to fully learning in person. The school district will expand the Omaha Virtual School, an existing program in which students spend four days a week learning independently at home and attend in-person sessions once each week.
OPS said in a press release that it will add space for 400 new students in the Virtual School. The current enrollment at the school is approximately 200 students.
New enrollments at the school will be based on space and application criteria, the district said.
OPS started the 2020-2021 school year by having all students in the district do remote learning. In October, the district had students back in schools part time, and in February the district offered full in-person learning.
After returning to in-person lessons, OPS had to temporarily halt in-person classes at some schools because of COVID-19 cases. In November, two of the district’s seven high schools, Burke and North, went to all-remote learning at the same time because of COVID-19 cases and additional staff being forced to quarantine.
In recent months, all OPS staff members have been invited to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, and the district said it is working with the Douglas County Health Department to reach students who are eligible for the vaccine.