BBPS Will Not Mandate Masks For Staff And Students; Reopening Plan Still Being Worked On

Being scared of COVID is not an excuse to not come to school whether you’re a student or a teacher.

- Broken Bow Superintendent Darren Tobey

The Broken Bow School Board did not have a large number of action items on the agenda for their Monday, July 20 meeting, but they did spend a good portion of the meeting discussing the reopening procedures for school when the school year starts up in August.

Superintendent Darren Tobey stated that to start off the year, teachers and students will be responsible for taking their temperatures each day before coming to school and to stay home if temperatures are 100.4 degrees or above.

Tobey said that while the school will be able to pay for teachers or staff who have to quarantine for two weeks, if a teacher or staff member has to quarantine after the two weeks, they may be asked to use PTO for any additional days. It was also noted that the school cannot legally force teachers to stay home if they want to come into work.

Tobey continued through some of the ideas on reopening which also included masks. Currently, Omaha, Lincoln, and Kearney schools are mandating masks inside the buildings, but this will not be the case in Broken Bow. Tobey said that if students or staff would like to wear one, that is perfectly fine, but he would not make it a mandate at the school.

It was also noted that some of the recommendations for schools is to have at least six feet of separation between students in classrooms, but Tobey said that is impossible for most classes. He told the board that it might be possible in smaller class sizes, but that there is no way larger class sizes would be able to have that separation.

“There is no way we could put six feet between every kid in those classrooms. Some of the class periods, yes we certainly could do that, but we can’t do that for every period. If there are schools that say they are doing that there is no way they can unless they have five kids in a class,” said Tobey. “School is going to be as normal as can be of course we are going to encourage them to wash their hands more. We have hand sanitizer dispensers in each room now.”

When it comes to the attendance policy for students, the plan, as of now, is for it to be the same as it has been in the past. There could be exceptions such as students that are at a higher risk to develop complications from the virus, but Tobey said that if a student was to stay home, it will be a much more intense curriculum than what took place in March. It was noted however that if a parent was to choose to have their child stay home they would most likely need documentation giving valid reasons why their child could not be at school.

“Being scared of COVID is not an excuse to not come to school whether you’re a student or a teacher,” said Tobey.

A final outline regarding opening up the school and the procedures that will be implemented is planned to be completed and released to the public during the first part of August. All procedures are subject to change.

Other approvals included the treasures report which Tobey informed the board that the general fund currently has over $4 million which is the highest ever recorded in recent history. Tobey also reported that combined over the last three years, expenses for the school has been down approximately $1 million. He did note that the school is about $250,000 behind in revenue from the $10.1 million that was hoped for, but considering the situation, it could have been a lot worse.

Bids for the preschool project are expected to come in this week as bids for the project are due before August. The maximum allotted money for the project cannot exceed $1.7 million.

The next work session for the Broken Bow School Board will be held on August 10 at 7:30 PM with the regular meeting being held August 17 at 7:30 PM.