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Friday Notes

 

To All Bennington Public Schools’ Students and Families:

Help! Yes, you read it and I said it; we need your help. As we see COVID-19 cases on the rise, our goal to maintain in-person education in a safe environment is becoming a difficult task. Although the evidence suggests that schools are a safe environment for staff and students, we are constantly reminded that concerns of COVID-19 spread will not dissipate soon. Parents and schools have a common goal and a shared responsibility to protect and nurture children while providing them opportunities to learn and mature. The District is asking for your help in providing appropriate safeguards to lessen the spread of this illness whether you are at home or at school.  

The Douglas County Health Department shared some interesting information with the community in the past week. Information found on the DCHD website states we have had over 20,000 positive cases reported to date. This is only 3.5% of the population in Douglas County, but the positivity rate of people being tested has doubled in the last month; yet, only 1.6% of the positive cases for school age children can be traced to school spread. Bennington Public Schools has similar data. The majority of our students under quarantine restrictions this week have been related to adult cases in a household and community transmissions.

This is where we need your help to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in our community. The Nebraska Association of Local Health Directors have a simple message for all of us. Avoid the Three C’s: 1) Crowded Places - Avoid gathering where you can’t maintain 6-feet distance from others, 2) Close Contact - Wear a mask or maintain six-feet distance when you’re with people you don’t live with, and 3) Confined Spaces - Avoid enclosed spaces with poor ventilation. These simple, but safe, guidelines need to be in place in and outside of the school setting. Your help is needed at all times, not just school hours, to help maintain a quality education setting.

When we return on October 26th, we will continue our level of education at Tier II or Yellow; however, we should not assume we can maintain this setting without redirecting the upward trend in COVID-19 positivity. We want to be transparent in the fact that we may have to move to Tier III or Orange if COVID-19 cases continue to increase. If we must move to these increased restrictions, we will do our best to provide 2-4 days notice if and when we have to make adjustments in our plans.

The Douglas County Health Department (DCHD) has shared additional guidance and changes in regards to when we send students and staff home with COVID-19 symptoms. In regards to COVID-19, the expectations for students to stay home will continue if they experience any of the following symptoms: fever of 100.4 or higher, a new onset cough, shortness of breath, or loss of taste or smell. As a reminder, if anyone in your household experiences one of the “Big Three” symptoms, all household members are expected to stay home in accordance with the DCHD guidelines. To see the most up-to-date guidance, please click on the link provided: DCHD Requirements for Screening, Exclusion, and Re-Admittance of Ill Students and Staff in Schools.

We will continue to send students home as we have in the past, per our previous school health policies, as well as students who show signs of influenza. As we enter flu season, please keep your child home if they are experiencing the following symptoms: fever of 100 degrees or more, muscle aches, congestion, headaches and/or fatigue, as we know these are common signs of the influenza virus. Following the guidelines we have had in place in the years prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, students with diarrhea and vomiting should not return to school until 24 hours after last episode and are able to tolerate food. Students with fever need to be fever free for 24 hours without use of fever reducing medication.

Middle School Remote Learning families will receive a form from school about continuing remote learning or returning to the classroom for the Hexter 3 grading period. This is due back to school by Wednesday, October 28th, on or before 6:00 PM. This is only for the Middle School Remote Learners. All other Remote Learners should have started the 2nd Quarter on Monday, October 19th. Students can only change from in-person to remote learning for a medically verified reason from a licensed physician or therapist. Please contact your child’s administrator if you have any questions regarding this matter.

Throughout the first quarter Bennington Public Schools offered remote learners extended support through evening study centers and homework hotlines. We have carefully tracked participation in these services and have found few remote students accessed these support offerings, as they prefer working with their assigned teacher. Remote learner additional support availability has been modified for the second quarter.

Study centers or homework hotlines will be discontinued for remote learners after the last week in October. Opportunities for remote learners to access support will be managed through their classroom teacher(s). Staff may be reached through telephone, emails, or scheduled Google Meets. To ensure students receive timely support and to respect staff obligations, it is recommended to contact staff during school day hours.

Best of luck to our High School Badgers competing today in Kearney at the State Cross Country Meet. Bennington High School football will play Gross Catholic tonight at 7:00 pm. You may watch it live from the Gross Catholic Cougars Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QGLe86PKolE  

Fall is a time of transition and many community and family activities. Our elementary students will celebrate Red Ribbon Week next week to educate and support the anti-drug-abuse message. Next week culminates with students being able to dress up against drugs and share their Halloween costumes with their school friends. Unfortunately, safety precautions mean parents and grandparents cannot join students in school to celebrate and classroom parties will look different as well.

Please watch for communication through School Messenger for any changes in schedules including inclement weather announcements. Fall includes many fun family activities, but also challenges us with rapidly-changing weather and the risks of cold and flu season. Thank you for your support as we work to ensure a quality education for your students. We encourage you to practice all of the safety protocols listed earlier in this message so that we can continue with in-person school.

Together, we will continue to learn and grow even through these challenging times. We are Badger Strong!

Take Care!

10/23/2020

10/16/2020

 

To All Bennington Public Schools’ Students and Families:

 

We have officially wrapped up the first quarter of our school year, and what a start to the school year it has been. We hope that our families and staff are able to take this small reprieve to rest and come back to us restored. We know that we have been able to keep our buildings open for the entirety of this first quarter due to the efforts you all put in every single day. This does not go unnoticed and we continue to prove we are Badger Strong!

 

When we return on October 19th to begin the second quarter of school, we will continue our level of education at Tier II or Yellow; however, we cannot become lax in regards to what we have been doing to keep our doors open. We continue to stress the importance of following health official’s recommendations, both at school with our children and at out-of-school activities, to protect yourself and others from the COVID-19 virus outbreak. We continue to emphasize the necessity of wearing face coverings, washing of hands, social distancing, and daily symptom checks.

 

The Douglas County Health Department (DCHD) shared some important information about the upcoming flu season. They are recommending everyone get their flu shot and shared information from the CDC about steps to combat the flu at https://www.cdc.gov/flu/school/guidance.htm. The DCHD is now administering the 2020-2021 influenza vaccine to all individuals (regardless of insurance status) at NO CHARGE! Call (402) 444-6163 for questions or further information. Book your appointment today!

 

As we move into the colder months, we understand that the community and our families are eager for us to allow more events to take place in our facilities as well as increase the number of spectators we allow at events. We see every day that these restrictions are proving the COVID fatigue is real. Please know we are working to safely allow for the wants of our stakeholders to slowly be met, but for this to happen it is imperative all of us continue to follow the health department guidance.

 

Middle School Remote Learning families will receive a form from school about continuing remote learning or returning to the classroom for the Hexter 3 grading period. This is due by Wednesday, October 28th, by 6:00 PM. This is only for Middle School Remote Learners; all other Remote Learners should be set to begin the 2nd Quarter beginning Monday, October 19th. Students can only change from in-person to remote learning for a medically verified reason from a licensed physician or therapist.

 

Fall Parent-Teacher Conferences are complete. Nearly 100% of our elementary families participated in a virtual conference with their child’s teacher. Middle School and High School families were offered virtual conferences, but many chose not to meet with teachers at this time. If you missed conferences or just want to discuss your student’s progress, you may email the teacher through the school’s website, or call the school at any time. The success of students depends on the three-prong partnership of teacher, student, and family. 

 

Families may view report cards, attendance, and other information on the NebSIS family account. Each family received their login information to complete their student verification for registration to begin school. Middle and High School students have their own login to be able to review current grades down to the assignment level. Please contact the school secretary if you cannot locate your login information.

 

Bennington Public Schools commends the efforts of our community in working within the confines of our activity regulations. It is important to continue vigilance following regulations for event attendance. In order to maintain proper social distancing each participant is allowed five (5) family members to view the event in person. Family members must sit together while at BPS events and socially distance from other family groups. Standing on the plaza or above the seating areas is prohibited.

 

Patrons are expected to wear face coverings during the duration of any indoor event. While attending an outdoor event, face coverings are expected while traveling through the facility. This includes accessing the concession and restroom area. Staff members at BPS events will be monitoring compliance of activity attendance regulations. If a staff member seeks to reinforce any of our event protocols, please extend them some grace as they are only communicating expectations to maintain a safe environment for all stakeholders.

 

Bennington High School football will play Roncalli Catholic tonight at 7:00 pm. You may watch it live from the Bennington YouTube site: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCopUSlVyyQeX0hnwJovFb9g. Please be aware that all high school activities may not be broadcast due to rules and regulations of NSAA or copyright laws.

 

The intersection of Bennington Road and 156th Street will be closed for construction for the next few weeks. Local traffic can use North 2nd Street, Molley Street and Warehouse Street to access 156th Street and proceed south instead of using Highway 36 and 168th Street. Those living in the City of Bennington area can use Molley Street to Warehouse Street and 156th Street, then take Military Road and 168th Street to access the Middle and High School campuses. The length of this closure can vary for many reasons. The 156th Street project Facebook page will provide additional information and notification when the road has reopened and barricades are removed (facebook.com/groups/K2BenningtonProject/).

 

You may have heard some discussion about area school districts making some changes to their school calendars recently. Bennington Public Schools is not recommending radical changes to the school calendar at this time. We will evaluate data after this fall break and our traditional break around Thanksgiving to determine if we need to make any changes for the second semester. We will maintain our normal practice of closing school for severe weather as well. We have several days already built into the calendar for such days and do not feel it necessary to conduct remote learning activities on snow days.

 

As we have said since the beginning of the school year, we need your support and understanding to maintain in-person education. We understand the feelings of many regarding the safety protocols we have placed on students, staff and parents to lessen the spread of COVID-19. The District knows you understand the need for many safety protocols that we have put in place for the wellbeing of all. We see fatigue setting in and hear the plea of many to return to some form of normalcy; however, officials suggest we have to maintain the protocols in place for much longer than people want. Bennington is a great community, in part, because we all have a common goal. Together, we will persevere and come out of this pandemic stronger and better because we are Badger Strong!

 

Take Care!

 

10/9/2020

To All Bennington Public Schools’ Students and Families:
The news and data on our goal to lessen the spread of COVID-19 has been trending
the wrong direction the last few weeks. The Douglas County Health Department is
reporting 12.5% of individuals who are tested for COVID-19 are coming back with
positive results. This is the highest level of positivity since the end of May. Many other
data points (i.e. hospitalization, community spread) are experiencing increases as well.
Although Bennington Public Schools have not experienced the same increases as other
parts of the county, we should start planning for some changes if we do not heed the
warning signs that are all around us.
We will continue our level of education at Tier II or Yellow for the week beginning
October 12th; however, we stress the importance of following health official’s
recommendations, both at school with our children and at out-of-school activities, to
protect yourself and others from the COVID-19 virus outbreak. We continue to
emphasize the necessity of wearing face coverings, washing of hands, social
distancing, and daily symptom checks. Please take the time to read the rest of this note
to learn more about the “why” behind these necessary precautions as well as the
changes we are implementing in upcoming events.
Remote Learning families have received a form from their students’ school about
continuing remote learning or returning to the classroom for the next grading period.
This is due by Sunday, November 11th, by 6:00 PM. Please fill out the form in either
situation to verify if you plan to continue with remote learning or switch to in-person
learning. There is no open registration for remote learning as this process was
completed in early August. Students may move from remote learning back to the
classroom at the end of the grading period. Students can only change from in-person to
remote learning for a medically verified reason from a licensed physician or therapist.
Fall Parent-Teacher Conferences are scheduled for Tuesday, October 13 th and
Wednesday, October 14 th . Families will receive communication through email or paper
copies of student performance prior to the set conference dates. If parents or guardians
desire further information, a virtual conference time may be scheduled through a Sign-

Up Genius link. If you have not received communication prior to Tuesday, October 13th
or missed the conference signup deadline, please reach out to your child’s teacher.
Families may view report cards, attendance, and other information on the NebSIS
Family Account. Each family received their login information to complete their Student
Verification for registration to begin school. Middle and High School students have their
own login to be able to review current grades down to the assignment level. Elementary
families will receive a packet on Monday from classroom teachers to be reviewed during
the conference time. If you can’t locate your login information, please contact the school
secretary.
Bennington Public Schools commends the efforts of our community in working within
the confines of our activity regulations. It is important to continue vigilance following
regulations for event attendance. In order to maintain proper social distancing each
participant is allowed five (5) family members to view the event in person. Family
members must sit together while at BPS events and socially distance from other family
groups. Standing on the plaza or above the seating areas is prohibited.
Patrons are expected to wear face coverings during the duration of any indoor event.
While attending an outdoor event, face coverings are expected while traveling through
the facility. This includes accessing the concession and restroom area. Staff members
at BPS events will be monitoring compliance of activity attendance regulations. If a staff
member seeks to reinforce any of our event protocols, please extend them some grace
as they are only communicating expectations to maintain a safe environment for all
stakeholders.
Bennington High School football will play the Elkhorn Antlers tonight at 7:00 pm. You
may watch it live from the Bennington youtube site:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCopUSlVyyQeX0hnwJovFb9g. Please be aware that all
high school activities may not be broadcast due to rules and regulations of NSAA or
copyright laws.
The intersection of Bennington Road and 156th Street will be closed for construction for
the next few weeks. Local traffic can use North 2nd Street, Molley Street and
Warehouse Street to access 156th Street and proceed south instead of using Highway
36 and 168th Street. Those living in the City of Bennington area can use Molley Street
to Warehouse Street and 156th Street, then take Military Road and 168th Street to
access the Middle and High School campuses. The length of this closure can vary for
many reasons. The 156th Street project Facebook page will provide additional
information and notification when the road has reopened and barricades are removed
(facebook.com/groups/K2BenningtonProject/).

As you are all aware of by now, all students enrolled in Bennington Public Schools,
whether enrolled as an in-person or remote learner, are eligible to receive a free
breakfast and free lunch on the days that school is scheduled to be in session through
the end of December. In addition to free meals for all students, all student meal
accounts will be credited for meals purchased between August 12 th – September 22 nd .
The District is working to credit lunch accounts at this time. We have been told this may
take two to three weeks for the process to be complete.
Please remember that all a la carte purchases (i.e. extra servings, second meals) will be
charged to the student account at regular pricing. Families are encouraged to complete
a free and reduced (F/R) application for the 20-21 school year if needed. The F/R
application can be accessed on the District website under District/Documents/Lunch
Account Information. Please contact Tracy Watsabaugh, Coordinator of Nutrition
Services, if you have any questions about this program. twatsabaugh@bennps.org
The District has recorded over eight weeks (42 days) of school with some expected ups
and downs caused by COVID-19. We see students, staff and parents accepting of the
protocols put in place by the District while at school. However, we are seeing less
compliance with protocols that are in place to lessen the spread of this virus by many
outside of school activities. We understand everyone is tired of wearing masks and
staying away from fun activities attracting large crowds. We, too, are experiencing
COVID-19 fatigue. However, the results of our relaxed attitude toward this issue may
put us in an uncomfortable environment once more.
Take Care!

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Notice of Non-Discrimination Bennington Public Schools
 
Students, their families and potential employees of the Bennington Public Schools are hereby notified that the Bennington Public School District does not discriminate on the basis of sex, disability, race, color, religion, veteran status, national or ethnic origin, age, marital status, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical condition, or other protected status in employment, career or technical programs and activities as set forth in compliance with federal and state statutes and regulations. Any persons having inquiries concerning Bennington Public Schools compliance with Title II, Title IV, Title VI, Title IX, ADA and/or Section 504 may contact:

Dr. Terry L. Haack, Superintendent · 11620 North 156th Street · Bennington, NE · Phone: (402) ­ 238­-3044
Email: thaack@bennps.org
 
Bennington Elementary · 11620 North 156th Street · PO Box 309 · 402­-238­-2690 · fax 402­-238­-2185
Bennington High School · 16610 Bennington Road · PO Box 309 · 402­-238­-2447 · fax 402­-238­-2950
Bennington Middle School · 11201 N. 168th Street ·PO Box 309 · 402­-238­-3082 · fax 402­-916­-5823
Anchor Pointe Elementary · 17007 HWS Cleveland Boulevard · PO Box 309 · 402­-238­-2166 · fax 402­-885­-8604
Pine Creek Elementary · 7801 N HWS Cleveland Blvd. · PO Box 309 · 402­-238­-2372 · fax 402­-238­-2416
Heritage Elementary · 9950 Rosewater Parkway · PO Box 309 · 402­-238­-2095 · fax 402­-238­-3351
District Office · 11620 North 156th Street · PO Box 309 · 402­-238­-3044 · 402­-238­-2185