Top education stories: COVID-19 impact tops education stories of 2020 | Grand Island Local News |

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Chapman resident Mary Steiner (right) and compatriot Richard Ogden (Richard Ogden) worked together to put a poster on a barrel posted on the town’s main street, which read "SOS Save Our School" to raise awareness of the Northwest Public Schools Board of Directors meeting on February 10. The board of directors voted 4 to 2 at the meeting to close the school at the end of the 2019-20 school year. (Independence/Barrett Stinson)

At a school-wide press conference on the school’s collective response to the current coronavirus situation, Mayor Roger Steele (left) and officials from Grand Island School (including (right) Northwest Northwest) Jeff Edwards, principal of public schools). Jordan Engel, the principal of the Central Catholic Church of the Big Island; Tawana Grover, the principal of the Big Island Public School; Jerrita Staehr, the principal of the Trinity Lutheran Church; and Tim Leach, the principal of Heartland Lutheran, at the Kneale Administration Building of the Grand Island Public School on March 13. Although the school hoped to continue the class, they withdrew the class two days later and announced that they would switch to distance learning due to the increase in the number of positive COVID-19 cases. (Independence/Barrett Stinson)

When Justus Bader's grandmother Marilyn looked after her from the driver's seat, Justus Bader gave flowers to her mother. Heartland Lutheran High School is the only high school on the Big Island that held a "face-to-face" graduation ceremony in May this year. The award ceremony was held outside the school gym in the parking lot, and the whole family was watching their vehicles. The whole family can watch the whole ceremony on the big screen in the parking lot. (Independent/Josh Salmon)

Walnut Middle School students and staff wearing masks walked through the classroom between classes because on August 13, all staff and students at Grand Island Public School resumed their full schedules, and due to coronavirus concerns And adapt to the safety regulations. (Independence/Barrett Stinson)

The kindergarten teacher Tammy Verba of Gates Elementary School hosted the class discussion on December 16. Verba said she has increased the cleaning measures in the classroom to ensure that she and her students stay in school. (Independent/Austin Kohler)

(From left) Wyatt Hunter, Liam Sughroue, and Samuel Morales, first-graders of Gates Elementary School, talked during a bowling event in a physical education class on December 16. Despite the coronavirus pandemic, the school completed the first semester of face-to-face learning in December. 18. (Independence/Austin Kohler)

This is another part of a series of reports that review the top local news reports of the Big Island Independent in 2020.

From suspension of classes to virtual learning to the next development of Chapman School, 2020 will face many new challenges for educators, students and parents.

In early March, the school administrators on Grand Island hoped that COVID-19 would prompt the school to switch to distance learning, but it was initially unknown how long this situation would happen.

At a joint press conference on March 13, administrators from Big Island Public School, Northwest Public School, Big Island Central Catholic Church, Trinity School and Lutheran High School talked about their concerns about the coronavirus School plan. At that time, all administrators promised to continue opening as suggested by Governor Pete Ricketts and Nebraska Department of Education Director Matthew Blomstedt.

Jerrita Staehr, the principal of the Trinity of the Lutheran Church, said her school will remain open, but that is "daily and hourly conditions."

Two days later, on March 15, the school cancelled the course and announced that due to the increase in COVID-19 positive cases, they will temporarily switch to distance learning. GICC principal Jordan Engle said at the time that the school received "a lot of new information" from a group of local doctors, which led to the school's decision.

GIPS said in a statement: "From the very beginning we said this was an unstable situation, and the events that occurred in the past 48 hours encouraged us to take action to help slow the spread of COVID-19 throughout the community." "Due to the large population of the school, closing the school can prevent students from spreading the virus to their families and other people in the community."

Although the school expects distance learning to last only a few weeks, due to the continuous increase in COVID-19 positive cases, this learning does not end until the spring semester.

As the peak of the first COVID-19 positive cases reached its peak at the end of April, the schools on Grand Island realized that they would not be able to safely hold the May graduation ceremony without changes.

Grand Island High School held a virtual graduation ceremony on May 17. The award ceremony was broadcast live on the GIPS website, Facebook page and YouTube channel, as well as on the Nebraska News Channel.

Graduates send their diplomas, hats and gowns and admission procedures to their homes one week before graduation.

Due to targeted health measures taken at the time, Northwest Public School rescheduled its graduation ceremony to July 19. During the ceremony, the graduates’ folding chairs were separated on the wooden floor of the Rosencrants Stadium. The paper-cutting program was distributed six at a time.

The graduation ceremony of the Oshima Central Catholic Church was postponed to July 12. The ceremony was held in the school gym. There were more than 300 people at the time. According to the evacuation guidelines, the chairs were separated on the floor. Many people wore masks, and everyone who entered the gym had their temperature taken.

On May 17, Heartland Lutheran held a driving graduation ceremony for 20 graduates. The ceremony allowed students and their families to celebrate together while staying safe after the coronavirus pandemic. The family remained in the car, while the 20 students who were about to graduate were separated.

Chief school principal Timothy Leech (Timothy Leech) said: "We want to make sure that this event is held for them, and three or four students will leave the army in early June." "We just want to make sure that we are in their return. I did it when we were together."

In August, the school on Grand Island reopened face-to-face learning and adopted many COVID-19 protocols. GIPS implemented the Reminagined model and has maintained this model since its reopening. This model requires 6 to 10 feet of social distancing when possible. All GIPS employees and students must wear masks.

When the school reopened in August, Rod Foley, head of the Walnut Middle School, said that Walnut School staff encouraged students to walk 6 feet to maintain social distance.

"We encourage distance from society, and we put 6-foot stickers on different locations in cafeterias and buildings to ensure that children keep their distance from society," Foley said. "We know that they don't always have to keep a distance of 6 feet, which is why masks are so important."

He said that walnut kernels also asked students to wash their hands before lunch and other times in the school. He added that every classroom is disinfected before students enter the classroom.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as part of the GIPS Reimagined reopening model, GIPS also provides an alternative to virtual schools to replace students and families who may not be suitable for resuming in-person learning. At the elementary level, all students from GIPS meet in the virtual school. In the middle and high school stages, students in virtual schools are still members of their respective schools, but they are actually learning.

In her virtual classroom, Maura Hendricksen, a fourth-grade virtual school teacher who works from home, said that her students stand up every morning and say the pledge of allegiance to interact with classmates and act like Rest like that in class. People school.

She said that in order for the fourth grade students to participate in the whole study period, she will do "20-20-20" activities. During this period, the students will take their eyes off the computer screen for 20 seconds and do it during this period. Various activities to rest to make them move.

COVID-19 continued to affect schools in November because GICC temporarily switched back to virtual learning due to staff illness and lack of staff.

Due to lack of personnel, the school lasted six teaching days (November 17 to November 24) in virtual learning. Principal Jordan Engle said that when GICC decided to temporarily transition to virtual learning, 10 employees were absent due to illness, which made it "almost inoperable."

Engel said that as part of distance learning, GICC students and teachers have meetings through Google Classroom. He said that last spring, when the school also started remote learning, students and teachers felt "very comfortable" with Google Classroom, which enabled them to transition to remote learning smoothly and temporarily for two weeks.

On December 1, after the Thanksgiving holiday, GICC staff and students returned to school. There were no staff who were quarantined due to COVID-19.

In February, the Northwest Public Schools Education Committee voted 4 to 2 to pass board members Mike Shafer and Karl Quandt's veto to close the school. Advisory committee member Becky Rosenlund also voted in favor.

The main reason for the closure of Chapman School is the cost of approximately US$20,000 per student, and the school’s enrollment rate has not increased significantly in recent years. More than three years have passed since the Northwest Commission voted to close Chapman in December 2016. Later, it voted to let the school open as a K-5 facility.

Tami Garbers, who owns Tami's Daycare near Chapman, said that 75% of her daycare children came from school at the time, so the closure of the school will affect her The business has a "huge impact". She added that the Chapman community will lose the ability to socialize in school activities, such as suitcases or hospitality events, bingo books, family party nights, summer reading plans, muffins with mom and sweets with father. Donuts.

"The school is a huge loss to the Chapman community," Garbers said. "Because the school is closed, not many people want to move here. The value of the house will fall."

In October, the Chapman Village Board of Directors and the Northwest Committee voted to accept an offer that the school district sold the former Chapman School building to Chapman Village for $1.

At the July meeting of the village committee, when discussing the potential of buying Chapman’s school building, the chairman of the board, Chris Killin, worried that the village would spend $100,000 a year to repair the building. The village can afford it.

"I hope you know what you want to invest in," he told the board before voting.

The village is currently looking for ways to repurpose buildings and has established a community committee to provide guidance. At a committee meeting in November, Chapman residents suggested converting the former school building into a community center, apartment and/or office space, and renting out a gym.

Doane University announced in July that it would close the Big Island campus in College Park.

Ryan Mueksch, senior director of communications at Dunn University, said that due to the decline in enrollment on the Grand Island campus over the years, the university’s board of directors voted to stop all on-site undergraduate courses in May. The Master of Arts in Management program has been transitioned online.

Mueksch said that Doane-Grand Island students in university courses can choose online courses that are free of online fees, or they can choose to take courses on the Lincoln campus.

In an email sent to university leaders, Doane-Grand Island’s former campus and outreach director Audrey Scott provided a copy of it to The Independent. Paul Savory, President and Executive Vice President of Doane University, stated that the university will no longer It has staff or office space in the college park, but plans to reserve limited classroom space to support the graduate education program, which will continue to be provided on site.

In September, it was announced that the University of Nebraska in Kearney would occupy the space in the idle College Park of Doane University.

UNK is renting two classrooms and two offices in University Park for faculty and staff. Its three-year contract can be extended by two additional three-year terms, and it also allows it to use the large auditorium, meeting room and library/media center in the 55,000 square foot educational facility.

Through its location in University Park, UNK will collaborate with businesses and high schools in the Grand Island area, the Central Community College and other community organizations to provide education and training to provide a foundation for students' career development. This includes academic counseling, undergraduate and graduate programs, certificate programs, workshops and seminars.

"We are very happy to be part of the Big Island community again. This extraordinary partnership will expand UNK's plans within the first-class facilities of University Park, allowing us to meet the academic needs of the city and the entire region." UNK Academic and Charlie Bicak, Senior Deputy Prime Minister for Student Affairs said.

After recalculating the points, in November, one of the closest matches in Hall County, Dave Hulinsky defeated Tim Mayfield by just 16 votes and won the GIPS Seats on the Education Committee.

Hollinsky got 2,065 votes, and Tim Mayfield got 2,049 votes. The current Lisa Albers (Lisa Albers) received 3,398 votes to request another seat for Ward B.

When asked what he thinks about the decision of the game with only 16 votes, Hulinsky said: "Wow!"

He said: "I have led this from the end of the election and hope to stick to it (leadership), but if I don't do this, I am ready to congratulate Tim Mayfield, go ahead and try again,". "When a group of teachers contacted me, I said,'They won't elect me at all; just no way. But I just thought, why not? Let's try it out and see what happens. The worst will happen. The thing is that I will continue my life."

Hollinsky said that as a board member, his first task is to be the voice of GIPS teachers.

In September, 29 years after Steve Fosselman retired, he retired as the director of the Big Island Public Library.

Before coming to the Big Island, Fosselman was in charge of library supervision in Iowa for 14 years. He said that the first seven years were spent managing the library in Spencer, Iowa, and then he started managing the library system consisting of 69 libraries.

Fuselman said that during his tenure as a director, he saw many changes in the library. When he began his tenure in 1991, the library used a computer for cataloging, but now it can accommodate up to 60 publicly accessible computers, and there are more computers for employees.

In December, Celine Swan, who has 20 years of library work experience, was appointed as Fosselman's successor library director.

Swann said at the time: "I have lived here all my life, I love Grand Island, I love our library, and we will have some great adventures." "I look forward to doing some very cool things in the future."

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