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Students in Westside district now will attend school for only part of the week, officials say

Students in Westside district now will attend school for only part of the week, officials say

Students in the Westside Community Schools will attend school only part of the week, district officials announced Tuesday.

The district said that from Aug. 18 through Sept. 4, some students will attend school in person while others will be at home.

The Omaha Public Schools and Ralston Public Schools have both announced that their students will be divided into two groups that will alternate days attending school.

The Westside district’s schedule will look different for elementary and secondary students.

Elementary school students will be divided into two groups based on their last names. Students whose last names start with A through K will attend school in person Mondays and Tuesdays. Students whose last names start with L through Z will attend school in person Thursdays and Fridays. On Wednesdays, everyone except teachers will be at home.

On days when students are not in class, they will have opportunities between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. to participate in live or prerecorded teaching lessons and small-group work.

Students who are home will not be expected to participate in six hours of continuous screen time.

Middle and high school students will be broken down into even smaller groups. Students whose last names start with A-E will attend school in person on Mondays, students with last names F-K will attend Tuesdays, students with last names L-R on Thursday and S-Z on Friday. On Wednesday, middle schoolers and high schoolers will be home.

On days when those students are home, they will have about 30 minutes or more of work per class per day that they will be expected to complete. The assignments will include such things as writing work or collaborating virtually in small-group discussions.

Families who have students with different/multiple last names may contact their building principal by 5 p.m. Aug. 4 to determine an assigned attendance group for their children.

In a note to parents, Superintendent Mike Lucas said the format will allow students who wish to return to in-person learning to get into classrooms a few days a week, meet their teachers, see friends and work toward a more normal school experience.

Lucas said district officials wanted students to attend five days a week because the primary objective has been to get students back in school.

“However, our local medical experts are telling us that the community infection rate in Omaha is still too high to safely open schools in a traditional format that we so desperately want to get back to,” Lucas wrote.

Lucas cautioned that COVID-19 concerns by the start of school Aug. 18 could require that all students stay home and learn remotely.

“We know this is a scary and emotional situation for many of our students, staff and community,” Lucas wrote. “It’s also become divisive and overwhelming. Please hang in there with us during this stressful and difficult time.”

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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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