Scottsbluff families and community members,
As you’ve likely heard by now, PPHD has moved our community and county risk dials to Red (Severe). This reflects the trending over the most recent three week period in which local confirmed cases, hospitalizations and positivity rates have all significantly increased in our community and surrounding areas. Here is some state, local and national data showing the current state of COVID-19 infections in our community:
As of Monday, November 9, Scottsbluff and the surrounding communities are currently in the Severe level of COVID-19 spread. Source: Panhandle Public Health District www.pphd.org
According to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, Scotts Bluff County has the 4th largest number of positive cases in the state, being outpaced only by the Lincoln and Omaha metro areas. Source: Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services
The New York Times has reported Scotts Bluff County as having the most cases per population in the last 7 days in all of Nebraska. Source: New York Times Interactive Nebraska Case Map
District Risk Level
Scottsbluff Public Schools continues to work in collaboration with PPHD, Scotts Bluff County Health, Regional West, and other state and local agencies on a safe, responsible plan for keeping our schools operating and minimizing the spread of COIVD-19 throughout our community.
Currently, the SBPS Risk Level will remain in Orange and will only move to the Red in the event the District faces circumstances that realistically prevent us from staffing schools or face other unforeseen obstacles. We intend to stay open as a District as long as we possibly can. That said, individual school shutdowns may occur situationally if the number of staff and students in quarantine warrant.
As a District, here are some examples of recent steps we have taken to help ensure our schools can remain open:
- The District has hired a number of additional permanent and temporary substitutes as well as temporary paraeducators in order to flexibly fill teacher absences.
- New safety precautions are in place for all events, further restricting attendance and maximizing safety. With the winter sports season upon us, this will be extraordinarily important. Our coaches, as well as activities directors, are working very hard to keep everyone safe.
- During parent-teacher conferences, all staff worked from home in order to allow for additional intensive disinfecting of all schools
How Can Families Help
SBPS continues to believe that with precautions, school is the safest place for our students. Currently, with the rise in cases, there is an increase in turnaround time for things like test results and contact tracing. With that in mind, here are some ways that families can help our schools stay open:
- Continue to stress the importance of mask-wearing – students are doing a tremendous job with adhering to mask requirements at school and school-sponsored activities, families can help reduce the spread by continuing these good habits outside of school
- If your student is ill or experiencing any symptoms, please keep your child home. It is important to be tested if you suspect you may have contracted the virus. Information on local testing sites is available here. http://www.pphd.org/
- If your student is a close contact of a positive case and will need to quarantine, please contact your local school. Due to the rise in cases, there is a delay in the schools receiving this information, with parent notification, records can stay up to date and attendance can be accounted for.
- Help your student to avoid gathering and limit exposure outside of school. With the holidays fast approaching, we could potentially see the number of positive cases increase even further.
SBPS will continue to update the COVID-19 Dashboard on a weekly basis and will review the risk level of each individual school weekly. Administration and the Return to School team will review the District’s Comprehensive Return to School Plan and will make and communicate adjustments as needed.