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More area schools announce closures

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HARTINGTON — Several area schools opted earlier this week to keep their doors closed for the rest of the school year and educate their students through distance learning.

Officials at Cedar Catholic and Hartington-Newcastle planned to meet midweek to determine if they would follow suit.

Norfolk schools, Wausa, Bloomfield, Crofton, Niobrara, Creighton and many others are all following the recommendations by the Nebraska Department of Education and the Elkhorn Logan Valley Public Health Department to shutter their doors for the rest of the 2019-20 school year.

The closures are an effort to try and contain the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) virus.

Nebraska Commissioner of Education Matt Blomstedt issued a statement saying that “learning should continue in the best way that we can during this time.”

Blomstedt also reiterated that he is waiving the requirements for being “in session” or onsite a certain number of days.

Hartington-Newcastle Supt. A.J. Johnson has announced the 2020 Prom has been cancelled.

“The message from the state and from the governor is to be prepared to have this last awhile,” Johnson said. “With that in mind, there was so much uncertainty whether we could even have a large group activity.”

School officials at Cedar Catholic and Wynot Public School have not gone that far, yet, but noted Prom may have to be cancelled.

Even though they are no longer in a classroom setting, students in all area schools are still expected to complete their school assignments.

Teachers at Holy Trinity and Hartington-Newcastle Elementary schools have been putting together packets for students. Once the packets are completed, they are then returned and graded.

Johnson said HNS high school students are receiving most assignments with their Chromebooks. 

“We are doing some group chats through Google Classroom or Zoom,” he said. “This offers  a good way for students to stay connected with one another in additon to staying connected with education.”

Johnson said the students are spending most of their school time reviewing information

“We are basically working on reviewing and building skills we’ve already taught. We really aren’t introducing any new things at this time,” he said.

The only exception to that are the students taking online college credit classes. Those classes will not change, he said.

Other services, such as counseling are still available, but in different forms, Johnson said.

“Counselors are reaching out to kids through phone and video conferencing,” he said. 

ESUI staffer Alecia Heimes has put some videos out on YouTube talking about how to cope in this situation.

“Our role has changed a little bit. We are much more of a parent resource right now than we’ve ever been. We know parents are struggling with this and we want to do what we can to help,” Johnson said.