January 2022
A portrait of Omaha Public Schools superintendent Dr. Cheryl Logan
Dear Omaha Public Schools Community,
Though we currently face some of the shortest days of winter and another challenging chapter in the years-long pandemic, we see many beacons of light in the months ahead.
Reflecting Omaha Public Schools’ leadership throughout the pandemic, we continue to prioritize responsible, in-person learning for young people. In partnership with Children’s Hospital & Medical Center, our district expanded access to COVID-19 testing for Omaha Public Schools students. Our layered health and safety protocols include face coverings and enhanced disinfecting procedures. In September 2021, anticipating challenges throughout the school year, we changed the 2021-22 calendar to add several non-student days for teacher planning, work and professional learning.
This month, with those layered precautions in place, our schools open their doors to future students and families – those selecting the best fit for the next step of their journey. We encourage you to check our calendar for remaining middle and high school open houses – and our comprehensive list of Kindergarten Roundup events.
We love to see future Buena Vista High and Westview High students touring their new space. Current and future Highland Elementary students enjoyed a first look at their renovated space this month. Our 2018 Bond Program is making a difference for students throughout our district. Thank you to the voters who made it possible.
While we look to the future with hope and excitement, we take our immediate commitment to responsible in-person learning most seriously. Rest assured that the health, safety and well-being of students, staff and families is at the forefront of our decision-making. As we communicated earlier in January, should health conditions require an individual classroom or school to temporarily adjust routines, we will communicate as proactively as possible with impacted staff and families. Thank you for your partnership and support.

Cheryl Logan, Ed.D.
Omaha Public Schools
Open House Events Offer Inside Look at
Many Options in Omaha Public Schools
Student ambassadors and staff are ready and waiting with excitement as new families arrive to learn more about their school.

"We meet a lot of people who might come to our school and current students that I've never met," said K'Shaun Frazier, Bryan High sophomore.

They are collaborating this month to plan and host open house events at all Omaha Public Schools’ middle and high schools, showcasing all that each community has to offer.
"Student ambassadors showed guests what we have in store when they come here," Frazier added.

From a look inside each school's advanced academics to information tables about activities and athletics, each event provides something a little different.

“My favorite part of this year’s open house was all the excited families walking out the doors," said Emily Anderson, Freshman Academy coordinator at Bryan High. "I heard a lot of comments about how inclusive and informative everything felt. It also melts my heart watching current students give tours and interacting with prospective students."
Families are encouraged to visit an open house during the month of January as students prepare to make their school choice for 2022-23.

"Open house is important for prospective students," added Anderson. "You learn a lot about an environment by meeting the staff, students and administration. I also think it’s great for them to see facilities or opportunities that we have."
School choice applications will be available at all schools and the Student Placement Office at TAC (3215 Cuming St.). Students entering middle school or high school in 2022-23 automatically received an application at their current school during the week of Jan. 10.

Families are guaranteed enrollment at their home school, according to our Student Assignment Plan. No application is required for home, or neighborhood schools. Students must apply if they wish to attend a different school within our district. Applications are due Jan. 28.
Afghan Family Finds Comfort in Connection to Home at Omaha Public Schools
Thousands of miles from the place they once called home, a sign of hope as a new journey begins.
Standing together at the Omaha Public Schools Welcome Center, Maryam Hasan and her father captured the moment in a photograph. On the wall behind them, a sign welcomed them in their native language, Pashto.
The Hasans, who recently resettled in Nebraska from Afghanistan, had just started the enrollment process at Omaha Public Schools when they asked someone to take their picture. They were grateful to find this small reminder of home when they arrived.
"We saw the signs in our language," recalled Hasan. "It made us feel happy and excited."
The welcome sign represents Omaha Public Schools' commitment to supporting all students and families. For those new to the United States, our district provides resources through our Refugee and Migrant Education programs.
“If we try to think about what it would be like to be totally displaced from your home and come to a new country where you don’t know the language and you’re not familiar with anything around you, making a connection right away is everything,” said Jaimie Cogua, coordinator of English Learning, Dual Language, Refugee and Migrant Education for Omaha Public Schools.

Hasan and her family arrived in Omaha last November after a months-long journey from Afghanistan to the United States.

"We spent a lot of time waiting for food and getting clothing, which sometimes was not the best for our needs," Hasan shared about her experience. "Finally, we came to Omaha, where our cousins, uncles and aunts live."
The rich diversity of our students and families is a point of pride for Omaha Public Schools. Our district works with community partners like Lutheran Family Services and the Refugee Empowerment Center to ease the transition for new Nebraskans.
“That partnership allows us to anticipate in advance when those families will be coming to enroll so that we can assure that we have the appropriate language assistance available,” said Cogua.
That advanced planning includes support for students when they arrive at school.
"I felt good because I can go to school and I was ready to begin," said Hasan. "All my teachers have helped me in all of my classes."

Omaha Public Schools staff also work to establish a connection with refugee families outside of school.

"Schools are often the first connection families make with their new community," said Naomi Fox, English Learner (EL) teacher at Burke High School. "We can be the connection for so many opportunities in Omaha, so these services are very important."

Our district offers a parent involvement program and adult English as a Second Language (ESL) classes. An enrichment class is in the works to incorporate innovative ways to connect.
“This helps to ensure that our newest families have support to feel connected and become engaged in their child’s education,” Cogua said. “Omaha Public Schools becomes a necessary resource and lifeline for our families and truly a partner in helping them become a part of our community.”
For Hasan, receiving a warm welcome made a difference as she adapts to a new school and community. When asked her favorite thing about school, she said "all of it has been my favorite so far!"
Beyond a School Leader
Principal's passion for school community creates special bond
A smile or wave during dismissal, an email to share an important update or a greeting during an open house event - these are all things you might expect from a school principal. At Omaha Public Schools, our ethic of care aims to exceed those expectations.

Jennifer Schlapia, Jefferson Elementary's principal, is a great example of someone who prioritizes that work. Earlier in the school year, a parent at Jefferson Elementary invited Mrs. Schlapia to be by her side during a milestone life event. Reflecting her strong relationships with the families she serves, Mrs. Schlapia jumped at the chance to be included.

New Schools Closer to Serving Students as Bond Construction Continues
Suited up in hard hats, reflective vests and safety glasses, students and families got a first look at Omaha Public Schools' two new high schools. Buena Vista and Westview welcomed small groups for guided tours earlier this month. The events offered a first look inside each school. Both are scheduled to open in August of this year.

The new high schools are among five new schools on the way for Omaha Public Schools, each made possible by the 2018 Bond Program. The $409.9 million bond program remains on schedule and on budget with 25 total projects throughout the district.
In addition to the work that’s visible to those who drive by or visit our buildings, nearly 200 student engagement opportunities have taken place tied to the bond program. More than 5,600 students have participated in projects related to the design and construction of our new and existing facilities. Here’s a video that highlights one of those activities – students from Bryan High and South High designed tiles that will be used as part of the décor at Buena Vista.
A comprehensive overview of the 2018 Bond Program is available at this link on Omaha Public Schools website.
Reporting Concerning Behavior: Presentations Planned

The health, safety and well-being of our students is always our top priority. Our work reflects that commitment in many different ways. For many years, our district has provided lessons to children on appropriate, healthy relationships and how to report concerns if an adult does not demonstrate that appropriate conduct. We train all staff, both as they are hired and yearly after that, on appropriate conduct and their role as a mandatory reporter.

All Omaha Public Schools staff are required to report concerning behavior to Child Protective Services. To augment those trainings, and further reflecting our commitment to young people, all students will soon see a recorded classroom presentation about reporting concerning behavior. This was developed in consultation with Project Harmony and law enforcement partners. We wanted our families to be aware of this addition to our proactive safety efforts. Please contact your student’s principal with questions.
COVID-19 Testing for Symptomatic Omaha Public Schools Students

Omaha Public Schools is partnering with Children’s Hospital & Medical Center to provide COVID-19 testing for students who currently have symptoms. This testing is provided at the sites listed below as a backup to other community testing locations which have been in high demand.

Forest Station Elementary
1010 Childs Rd W.
Bellevue, NE 68147

Mills Building
4301 N 30th St.
Omaha, NE, 68111

Testing is available Monday through Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. while supplies last. Each site will have 150 tests per day. These sites will be open through the month of January 2022.

Please visit our website for important information about testing qualifications and necessary forms.
Kindergarten Roundup Events Underway

Kindergarten Roundup enrollment events are also taking place this month. Students are eligible for kindergarten if they are five years old by July 31, 2022.

For families interested in attending an event, we have a complete schedule posted on our website.

Additional information is on our Kindergarten Enrollment page.

January STEM Learning

Julie Sigmon, Omaha STEM Ecosystem Director
Happy New Year! Start off 2022 in the best way by participating in STEM programs. Here are some of our favorite programs for the new year:

  • Virtual Escape Room: In this program join the iExcel staff on an informative tour through the Davis Global Center. You will be able to meet the teams that bring healthcare education to life through learners. This program is offered free by the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

  • Esports Tournament - Valorant: Join Prairie STEM for this fun activity in coding. This competition is for teams of 13–18-year-olds and they will compete for two days. This program is offered for free by Prairie STEM.

To register for these opportunities or to find more STEM programs, visit the STEM Community Platform Portal.
CHI Health and Omaha Public Schools partner to honor teachers across our district

CHI Health wants nominations of Omaha Public Schools' teachers changing the lives of students. Each month, they'll surprise a Top Teacher nominee with a treat basket for the teachers' lounge and a personal gift card. CHI will draw winners on the last Friday of the month. CHI Health will select one winner at the elementary, middle and high school level.

Anyone can nominate a Top Teacher.

Thank you for your support of our teachers and Omaha Public Schools.
... to JROTC Cadet Master Sergeant Liam Murphy of Burke High for earning second place in this year’s local Voice of Democracy audio-essay program.

... to Emily MoKrycki, teacher at Burke High, for earning Nebraska Theater Teacher of the Year.

... to Tom Wagner, principal of Benson High, or earning Nebraska Theater Administrator of the Year.

... to Edgar Del Cid Lutin of South High for earning second place in the Congressional App Challenge.
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Omaha Public Schools does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex (including pregnancy), marital status, sexual orientation, disability, age, genetic information, gender identity, gender expression, citizenship status, veteran status, political affiliation or economic status in its programs, activities and employment and provides equal access to the Boy Scouts and other designated youth groups. The following individual has been designated to accept allegations regarding non-discrimination policies: Superintendent of Schools, 3215 Cuming Street, Omaha, NE 68131 (531) 299-9822. The following persons have been designated to handle inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies: Director for the Office of Equity and Diversity, 3215 Cuming St, Omaha, NE 68131 (531) 299-0307.