School Closing, Monday and Tuesday

Saturday August 28, I was invited to a Zoom meeting comprised of Amanda Jeffries, RN, Executive Director of the Loup Basin Public Health Department, Nebraska Education Commissioner, Dr. Matt Blomstedt and Nebraska State Epidemiologist, Dr. Matt Donahue and several others within the Nebraska Department of Education.  The purpose of the call was to discuss the infectious disease outbreak in Sherman County over the past week.

Dr. Donahue had some interesting insights.   He stated that on Monday, August 16th, Sherman County wasn't even on his radar.   By Monday, August 23rd, Sherman County had the second highest rate by percentage of transmission of Covid-19 of any county in Nebraska.  

Ms. Jeffries expressed an alarming concern about the hospitals in the Loup Basin area and their inability to transfer patients with Covid-19 to hospitals in Grand Island, Kearney, Lincoln and Omaha because of a lack of bed space.  They are very nervous about their ability to find the level of medical care necessary for patients who may find themselves in real medical trouble because of Covid-19 infections. 

While we have seen a spike within Loup City Schools, this is not just a school issue.   Late Friday, we had our first case within the elementary school.  There have been more cases among adults in Sherman County.   

The recommendation by Dr. Donahue was to pivot on Monday and Tuesday to on-line learning.   The rationale for this two-day move has one main driver: the incubation period for the Delta variant of Covid-19 is slightly shorter than the previous strain.  It is 3 to 4 days.   The idea is that students, faculty and staff that may have been exposed on Thursday or Friday will have been home on Saturday, Sunday and then Monday and Tuesday.   Anyone exhibiting Covid-19 symptoms would see them manifest by Tuesday.   

We would ask parents to monitor their children and themselves for symptoms and to stay home while seeking their doctor's help id needed.   This would hopefully buy us time to identify who could potentially spread Covid-19 at school.

Therefore, we are going to have all students and faculty stay home Monday, August 30 and Tuesday, August 31 and monitor for symptoms.  We ask anyone demonstrating symptoms to go see their doctor. 

We will have 7-12 students do their school work virtually.  All  7-12 teachers will post an assignment for their odd numbered periods on Monday, and their even number periods on Tuesday.    K-6 teachers will not  post an assignment, due to the lack of technology in student hands.  Any 7-12 student needing their iPad will be able to come to school this evening, Sunday, August 29, between 5:00pm and 6:30pm to retrieve them.    

On Wednesday, September 1, we will wear masks K-12, until we see a decrease in the county-wide spike of cases.  We will also monitor temperatures and pay close attention to our cleaning and sanitizing protocols. 

Extra-curricular Activities The volleyball team members have been in isolation and monitoring for symptoms for several days at this point.   Dr. Donahue agreed that it would be permissible for them to play at Doniphan-Trumbull on Tuesday evening, August 31.   They will have a short walk-through practice right before they board the busses.  Masks will be required while they are on the bench.  

The football team members will not practice on Monday.  We are discussing a late afternoon, early evening practice on Tuesday, after students have been temperature checked.  A staggered, physical distancing plan will be in place for the  locker rooms.  

We will be in contact with golf and cross country team members.  The fact that golf, cross country and football are outdoor activities is helpful in this case.   

This is absolutely the last thing we wanted to do this year, but the data concerning Sherman County is compelling.   I ask that you take care of yourself and anyone else that may have secondary underlying issues.  Incidentally, this is the same action we would take in the event of any infectious disease outbreak, rather it be influenza, whooping cough or chicken pox.

Monitor for these Covid-19 symptoms:

  • Fever of chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting 
  • Diarrhea

Look for emergency warning signs for Covid-19.  If someone is showing any of these signs, seek emergency medical care immediately:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Pale gray or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone

If you have questions, please don't hesitate to contact me at (308) 745-0120 or   

Thank you.