Lincoln Public Schools Temporarily Cancels Friday Classes For Next 3 Weeks

14 Jan 2022, 3:06 p.m. ·

Mom holds daughter's hands as she drops her off at school with other parents and children walking into the school building.
Lincoln Public School District Superintendent Steve Joel said depending on staff availability, schools and classrooms will be prepared to return to remote learning. (Photo Courtesy of Lincoln Public Schools on Facebook)

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One of Nebraska’s largest school districts is canceling in-person classes for the next three Fridays because of the rise of COVID-19 cases in the community.

Lincoln Public Schools Superintendent Steve Joel made the announcement on a Facebook Live press conference Friday.

Lincoln Public Schools says its goal is to keep classes open. However, the highly transmissible Omicron variant has significantly dropped student and staff attendance. In response, the district decided it won’t have classes on Jan. 21, Jan. 28, and Feb. 4. Joel said school buildings will still be open on "Covid Response Fridays" for students to catch up on assignments with teachers.

"We understand that this will cause extra stress for families, particularly working families, and we don't make this decision lightly," he said. "COVID Response Fridays, we believe, will help us keep our schools open and help us navigate our way through the surge that we find ourselves in the midst of."

Staff who cover sick teachers will also be able to recoup some lost time on Fridays and work on lesson plans. Forty-one percent of classrooms didn’t have a substitute teacher to fill in this week. That's a record high, according to Joel. If there’s not enough staff available, some classrooms could go back to remote learning.

"We're experiencing a staffing crisis," he said. "We're concerned, as we speak, about having sufficient staff in our buildings each week to keep our schools open safely for student in-person learning."

He said a decision to use remote learning won’t be district-wide, but could be made for a certain classroom or school.