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LPS remote learners up nearly 40 percent since beginning of school year

Published: Nov. 19, 2020 at 5:56 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - In the last week more than 1,000 parents have opted to take their kids out of Lincoln Public Schools and switch to remote learning.

The number of remote learners is the highest it’s been all year, up nearly 40 percent from when the school year started.

Right now, 9,217 students are remote learners, that’s 23 percent of LPS students.

“Our families are paying close attention to conditions when our risk dial moved to red, so more families decided that makes sense for them. Those numbers also include students who are quarantined, so as we see cases in the community rise we see that rise,” Sarah Salem with LPS said.

This number has fluctuated all year.

On August 1, when the school started there were 6,700 remote learners. In September it peaked to 8,899 and then in October dropped to 7,973 before this recent spike.

Part of this increase can be attributed to 128 new student cases of COVID-19, though the district doesn’t release how many students are in quarantine.

These increases do create more work for the district’s teachers.

“There’s no question that more remote learners can be added considerations and planning for teachers, but we had to give our families options based on these unprecedented times,” Salem said.

Salem said the flexibility has been key for families.

“If we had used a dedicated virtual school it’s not likely we would have had the staff to deal with this increase in numbers of students who need to quarantine,” Salem said.

Though it is a balancing act between weighing teacher’s needs with student’s needs.

“It’s one of those things where we have to step back and put it all up on a board and say if we make this decision for faculty, what does it do for students and families,” LPS superintendent Dr. Steve Joel said.

To help accommodate teachers who are doing more work with remote learners, they are working to give teachers more planning time.

Students will likely continue to have the option to switch back and forth between remote and in-person learning throughout the spring, but the district encourages parents to pick an option and stick with it as much as possible.

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