The state of education in 2020 has changed drastically in the past two weeks, with officials unsure if students will return to school to finish out the 2019-20 school year.
On Sunday evening, officials with COVID-19 Unified Command, in conjunction with superintendents from across the Panhandle agreed to extend the closure of schools through May 1 in an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Alliance Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Troy Unzicker said APS is adapting to the changes, working to educate students remotely.
“We’ve got the school building doors closed,” said Unzicker. “We’re providing alternative education. Each building is doing something a little bit different, but we’re gearing up to provide online education for everything so we don’t have the distributions we’re having now. This is an unprecedented situation, and we’re doing our best to get through it.”
Unzicker noted that some schools in the state have already announced they will not return for the rest of the school year.
“Superintendents in the Panhandle thought it was best to see how this is going to play out,” Unzicker said. “We’re preparing to be out all year, but we want to take our time because we want to do everything we can for our kids.
“We’re already losing the prom with this, the way it’s going, and graduation is the first couple of weeks in May. We’d hate to lose that, but as long as the CDC continues to say 10 or less, it’s not going to look like it has in the past. We might have to come up with some sort of alternative. We hate to do these things, but when the Panhandle health professionals and the state health professionals tell you this is the way it needs to be, then that’s what you do,” said Unzicker.
The Nebraska School Activities Association, as of press time, has made no indication of whether spring sports will take place. Unzicker is monitoring the situation. He noted that a majority of schools in the state have closed through May 1.
“I hope in two months we find out we did more than we needed to,” Unzicker said. “It’s better safe than sorry.”
On Monday, to help feed students, Alliance Public Schools organized grab and go lunches to be picked up at Alliance Middle School for children 18 and under. He noted that the demand was high, which has led to a change in plans.
“We got approval for the free meals for 18 and under,” said Unzicker. “In the summer, we averaged about 50 meals. We were planning for Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and on Monday and Friday, we were going to provide a hot and a cold lunch for the next day. We prepped 85 meals on Monday, and we were out of them in 10 minutes and we had a line. We’re going to go every day of the week now, Monday through Friday, and we’re prepping 250 meals.”
People are asked to enter Alliance Middle School on 12th Street entrance and to exit onto Box Butte Avenue.
“People will just drive through and get as many meals as they have kids 18 and under,” said Unzicker.