July 2020
Managing Editor: Josh Sluiter
Greetings Omaha Public Schools Community,

As our district prepares to open safely and responsibly in August, the health and well-being of our students, staff and families is at the forefront. We miss our students and look forward to learning in-person with them again. We also understand the questions and uncertainty staff and families face during this time. Many layers of safety precautions will be in place as staff and students return.

Our district has developed plans in close coordination with Omaha Public Schools health services leadership and area medical experts. We are planning for a range of possibilities, knowing that conditions, guidance and directive health measures may require us to adjust routines again in the year to come.

Keeping staff, families and our community informed is important to us. In addition to the article below, our plans are posted in-detail online. We recently hosted a virtual staff town hall, a Facebook Live event for families and we will restart our weekly email updates this month.

To #opensafely and #openresponsibly in August will require a community-wide effort. Thank you for your partnership in that work. We will cross this new territory, together.

Take care and be well.

Cordially Yours,

Cheryl J. Logan, Ed.D.

Preparing for a Responsible Return to School
When early August arrives, more than five months will have passed since we last learned with students in person. We have actively planned for a responsible reopening of our schools throughout the spring and summer.

Dr. Cheryl Logan explained, “Our planning process engaged staff, families, students and partners. We reviewed national, state and local guidance, collaborated with health experts, state and local leaders, worked with neighboring school districts and similar large, urban school districts across the country. Additionally, we hosted student, staff and family surveys, focus groups and a workshop with our Board of Education.”

One of the key aspects of this safe return to physical learning is the Family 3/2 model. This blended learning environment will feature approximately 50% of students physically in school each day while at-home learning will continue for students through our 1 to 1 technology initiative. Students with last names A-K will go to class Monday and Tuesday, while students with the last names L-Z will go Thursday and Friday, and the two groups will alternate each Wednesday. For families with students that have different last names, all students will be grouped according to the oldest student’s last name.

“The safety and welfare of our staff, students and visitors of our schools is our top priority,” said Lori Bouda, supervisor of health services at Omaha Public Schools. “Preventative measures are essential in combating the spread of COVID-19, which is why we are requiring face coverings and why social distancing was built into the Family 3/2 model. Additionally, this model provides consistency and predictability for which days students will physically attend school.”

Another key aspect of this responsible return is our 1 to 1 technology initiative. When students are in school, they will receive in-depth instruction from their teachers. This will then allow students to practice the skills and concepts they learned during in-person instruction while they are in at-home learning. At-home learning will feature a variety of planned learning experiences through a combination of printed and online materials. At-home learning will provide the opportunity for both practice and extension of classroom instruction.

“Through our one-to-one technology initiative, curriculum planning and professional development focused on maximizing technology for at-home learning,” explained Bryan Dunne, director of information management services. “At-home learning for students will evolve significantly this fall when compared to the spring.”

But our focus does not stop at just educating our students.

“School is so much more than just a place where students come to learn academics,” explained Katie Hecht-Weber, school counseling supervisor for Omaha Public Schools. “School provides classroom communities, groups of friends and adults who genuinely care. We are committed to re-fostering this disrupted sense of belonging, community and safety as students return to schools this fall.”

Preparing staff to actively support students in need of mental and emotional support is important in these difficult times. To better serve our students, our support staff has undergone professional development with an intentional focus on social and emotional skill building, mental and behavioral health as well as personal safety. Counselors will provide social emotional learning activities during scheduled classroom visits, and there will also be 24/7 support provided for students through the Safe Schools Hotline in partnership with Boys Town.

As the year progresses, we will regularly review local and state guidance as well as local health conditions to adjust our plans accordingly. We look forward to serving all of our students in school everyday once conditions allow.

To stay up to date on all Omaha Public Schools health and safety news, follow our Health and Safety Facebook page and regularly check out the district Health and Safety website.

“I’m hoping that soon we’ll be on the other side of this, as I know we all are. In the meantime, we’re going to take care of each other, we’re going to implement the recommendations of the medical professionals and we’re going to safely get our children back in schools and in their seats,” said Logan. “We can’t wait to welcome you all back on August 11.”
2018 Omaha Public Schools Bond Program Update
With safety in mind, work on the 2018 Bond Program maintained momentum during the district closure.

“Construction teams have made adjustments to ensure worker safety and health are prioritized, while work slowdowns are minimized during the pandemic,” said Mark Sommer, program director for Jacobs Project Management Co. and a leader on the 2018 Bond Program. “For example, worker screenings are performed at the start of each day, and workers that do not pass the screening are not allowed to work and can only return to work once they provide proper documentation from a doctor.”

The teams have used diligence and followed healthcare guidelines to keep the bond projects moving forward on schedule, ensuring that these learning spaces will be ready on time for our students. Below are some quick updates on the state of each school.

The future high school at 60th and L streets has seen concrete block walls go up, the installation of the building’s steel framework and complete placement of concrete.

Watch the video to see a flyover of the current progress.

The future high school at 156th and Ida streets now features a completed base of concrete, roof installation and fire proofing throughout the majority of the building.

Watch the video to see a flyover of the current progress.

The future elementary school on Fort Crook Road now features concrete footings, structural retaining walls and the groundwork for electrical and plumbing.

Watch the video to see a flyover of the current progress.
The future elementary at 10th and Pine streets is still in the early stages, with the demolition of existing buildings and site preparations still taking place. Aerial footage of the site will be available soon.

To stay up to date with all bond program projects, please click here to visit the bond program website.
Bond Work Internship Offers Real-World Learning for Central High's Cassandra Willey
Central High 2020 graduate Cassandra Willey is just starting college, but she's already been preparing for her future.

"When I started I didn’t know anything about this job," explained Willey. "I thought I’d maybe want to go into construction, maybe architecture, but this internship let me explore whatever I was interested in that day and really find what I wanted to do."

Willey started as an intern with Jacobs Project Management Co. through a program at Central High School. Jacobs manages the 2014 and 2018 Bond Projects for Omaha Public Schools, and through that work Willey has been able to impact schools across the district.

“My favorite project I got to work on was Pinewood Elementary since it had a three classroom addition and a full renovation," Willey explained. "That project began right as I started my internship, so I got to see the design process and follow that work all the way through to completion which is coming up in the next couple weeks."

"Recently it’s been really exciting that we’re working on Central High. I’m able to work on designs and provide input on my own high school that I just graduated from, and I now work with [Principal Dr. Bennett] on a more business level," said Willey. "Even just those interactions with Dr. Bennett have really helped prepare me for life after high school."

Through this internship, Willey has been able to learn more about the field and prepare herself for the future.

“When I started this internship I really wanted to do architecture, and they let me work a ton with the architect in the office. He showed me what an architect actually does, showing me around job sites, all the day-to-day stuff. After doing that, I know that architecture is always an option, but I really feel that project management is what I want to do most and that's why I'm going to school for construction management."

Moving forward, Willey is excited to continue her work in construction management.

“I was an intern, but they never acted like I was. They would give me real tasks to do, not just busy work. It really prepared me for future jobs because they'd just say, 'Here's the time you have, what do you want to work on today?' and it really helped me get a complete understanding of the field."

“It can be hard to fit stuff like this into your schedule while in high school, but there are tons of opportunities if you get connected with the right place," Willey said. "The team has been fantastic working with my high school schedule, and we’ve already gotten that sorted out as I move into physical college classes soon and continue my work at Jacobs.”
CHI Health and Omaha Public Schools Partner to Honor Teachers Across the 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 at CHIhealth.com/TopTeachers .

If you would like to view the latest CHI newsletter devoted to youth issues, please Click Here .

Thank you for your support of our teachers and for your support of the Omaha Public Schools.
... to Massimo Saitta of South High for earning the Senior of the Year Award from the Nebraska High School Theater Academy.

... to Al Griggin of South High for being selected as a top ten state finalists for Outstanding Actress or Actor from the Nebraska High School Theater Academy.

... to Daisy Friedman of Central High for being awarded by the National Scholastic Writing Awards a Gold Key, National Gold Medal and the American Voices Medal for her poem, “Dear Organ Donor.”

... to Omaha South’s Leslie Saavedra-Bojorquez for being awarded by the National Scholastic Art Awards a Gold Key and National Silver Medal for painting, and a Gold Key and National Silver Medal for digital artwork.

... to Ellie Maguire of Central High for being awarded by the National Scholastic Art Awards a Gold Key and National Silver Medal for her mixed media sculpture, Ladder to the Wild.

… to Eric Seger-Pera of Omaha Central for being recognized by the Nebraska Governor for his top score on his college entrance exams. Seger-Pera was one of 44 Nebraska students to earn this recognition.

… to North High graduate LJ McPhaull for receiving the North High Teachers award, the McMillan Magnet Staff Scholarship and the Harley Collings Alexander Scholarship.

... to Rachel Arens of Northwest High for earning the 2020 Air Force Association/Rolls Royce National Aerospace/STEM Teacher of the Year.

... to Florence Elementary Kindness Crew for being selected the You Are Not Alone (YANA) school of the year.
The following links will provide you with quick access to district sponsored events, procedures and resources. Please click on the categories under each title below, and you will be taken to the correct web page.
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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.