Grand Island students to stay in class...for now

Published: Mar. 13, 2020 at 5:04 PM CDT
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Students at all of Grand Island's schools will be in class next week, despite some uncertainty about the coronavirus.

Administrators from Grand Island Public Schools, Northwest Public Schools, Grand Island Central Catholic, Heartland Lutheran School and Trinity Lutheran schools announced Friday their joint plans to continue classes as normal for the time being.

GIPS superintendent Dr. Tawana Grover said that concerns about attendance and staff pay would be set aside as the priority was safety for students and staff.

"We do not want parents to worry about attendance if their student is not feelng well or is at risk," Dr. Grover said. "We don't want our staff worrying about if they're getting paid as opposed to staying healthy. We have put parameters in place to ensure their compensation as well as benefits are secured.'

Each administrator encouraged patrons of their schools to closely monitor communication from schools in person and online to stay informed on the schools plans. They say there's a lot of rumors and misinformation that can be found on social media which can cause some confusion for parents.

"We ask that for any further communication that you rely only on official school communication and that is very important," Grand Island Central Catholic Principal Jordan Engle said. "Misinformation is probably the single biggest foe here behind the illness."

Each school administrator also said they were working on contingency plans to teach classes online or make adjustments for students without internet access.

"We do recognize that some of our students may or may not have access to internet and where they may experience that digital divide," Dr. Grover said. "So in addition to our online platforms, our team is also working on assembling packets that will be able to go home with the students so we can continue to create an atmosphere where they can engage in academic opportunities."

Grover also said plans were in the works to provide meals for students who depend on the school system for breakfast and lunch in case regular classes had to be called off. The administrators said resources from the community, including in some cases the school's foundation would be used to provide meals. Grover said they may follow their summer model for providing food in the event that classes in the buildings have to be canceled;