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LPS high schoolers return to the classroom, masks not required

Published: Aug. 17, 2021 at 9:30 AM CDT|Updated: Aug. 17, 2021 at 9:41 AM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Lincoln Public Schools high school students headed back inside the classroom Tuesday, in what will look like a fairly normal first day.

Students in grades seven through 12 will not be required to wear masks this school year, a contrast from younger grades within the district.

During an interview with 10/11 NOW, Superintendent Dr. Steve Joel, said he had heard from parents on both sides of the masking debate. He called the current policy, which could always change, the best decision based off of the advice from the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department.

“We’re going to see a lot of high school kids wearing masks, we see it now in the community,” said Joel to parents. “I would say that if your concerns are really deep and your son or daughter doesn’t want to miss out on school work, work with your principals. There might be some other things we can look at.”

“I really just want us to focus on what’s most important to us and that’s high quality educational delivery for all of our kids,” Joel added.

Unvaccinated staff are required to wear a face covering, though the system in place relies on a person to only self-report their vaccination status.

Also new this school year, there will be no remote learning option for students. Joel said it’s important to get students back into the classroom, as some students fell behind last year due to online learning.

Last year, Joel said the district began the school year with 32 percent of students enrolled in remote learning. By the end of the school year, that number was down to 13 percent.

Upward of 42,000 students are enrolled at LPS, so not every situation will fit every person. Joel said the district will to health officials, and make the best decisions for the entire school system.

“A teacher can do a much better job of monitoring progress when a student is actually there in person, opposed to doing it through a Zoom camera,” Joel said. “We think that a lot of our students are coming back because they know that we’ve proven that we can make school safe.”

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