Hastings, Grand Island offering differing back-to-school plans

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. -- A pair of Tri-Cities schools are offering differing policies when it comes to masks in the classroom.

Grand Island Public Schools are going back to a mask mandate, at least temporarily. In a memo issued to parents Monday, Superintendent Tawana Grover said the district is temporarily requiring masks for all Pre-K through 12th grade staff, students and visitors while inside school buildings.

Grover blamed rising and prolonged transmission rates of COVID-19 for the change.

The district's back-to-school plan calls for masks to be optional, unless COVID-19 transmission in their district reaches substantial transmission, which is defined as 50 cases per 100,000 residents in Hall County. Currently, Hall County is averaging about 80 cases per 100,000.

Meanwhile, Hastings Public Schools will be going without a mask mandate to start the year.

The Hastings School Board approved their back-to-school plan on Monday on a 7-to-2 vote. The plan includes a recommendation, but not a requirement, for masks.

The plan also calls for teachers to use outdoor classrooms when possible. It also encourages social distancing and allowing extra time for students to wash or sanitize their hands.