Niobrara School Board approves reopening plan


LUSK – In conjunction with recommendations from the Niobrara County Public Health officer, Dr. Joleen Falkenburg, the Niobrara County School Board made the decision at their regular meeting Aug. 3 to adopt a three tier “Smart Start” plan for a return to school for staff and students. This plan will start at tier one, the least stringent of any recommendations or requirements.

Staff reported later in the meeting on results of a survey sent to parents to gauge preferences on reopening plans. A total of 87 people responded to the surveys, with 68% of the families having students in LEMS and 27% at the high school.

Most of the respondents, 85%, favored on-campus, in person instruction. Another 11.5% preferred the opposite – a fully virtual, remote instructional model. The rest preferred “other,” unspecified options.

Preferences on precautions to keep students and staff healthy and safe included increased sanitation and hand sanitation efforts, along with daily screenings of all campus staff and visitors by the school. Other options included parents taking at least some of the responsibility for screening students daily. Many want parents to take more responsibility.

Dr. Falkenburg was present, as were several members of the public, as Superintendent of Schools George Mirich presented the three tiers. Mirich said reopening plans continue to be impacted by public health orders issued by Governor Mark Gordon.

Tier one is all in-person instruction. There is some discussion the temperature screenings could go away and that masks will be required in some instances. Until the state issues these mandates the school will not know for sure.

As of right now in tier one, the schools will follow state and local health directives. The schools will continue to deliver high quality standards-based learning opportunities, IEP and 504 accommodations, Mirich said. As instructional plans change students and parents will be notified prior to the change.

The district does offer Wyoming Virtua Academy for all families who do not wish to have their students return to the school environment, he said. The goal of Niobrara County School District is to deliver instruction as much as possible in the traditional manner.

Read the full story in the Wednesday, Aug. 5, edition of The Lusk Herald

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