Westside Community Schools Set to Start the Upcoming School Year in “Yellow” Status


Image via Westside Community Schools's Website

On Saturday, Sep. 5, Jack Meehan died.

With the 2020-2021 school year a few weeks away and a global pandemic still on the rise, there has been speculation on what the start of the semester will look like. Westside Superintendent Mike Lucas put out a statement on Tuesday, July 28, stating that Westside Community Schools will start the school year in a “yellow” status. Westside was previously in a “green” status meaning that all students would be returning to class with exceptions made for those that requested “extended campus learning” for the first quarter. 

Lucas stated that the switch from green to yellow was due to the high COVID-19 infection rate in Omaha. Westside’s back to school status will remain yellow from Aug. 18 to Sept. 4, although Lucas emphasized that it is possible to enter a “red” status before the school year begins which means all students would learn remotely. 

The goal for the yellow status is to allow students to attend school in-person while maintaining social distancing with fewer students on campus. For elementary schools and the West Campus building, only 50 percent of students will be on-site at a time. The days of attendance have been split up into two groups based on last name. Class structure will remain the same but within a smaller class size. On days where students are not on campus, they will have access to live or prerecorded lessons to follow along. 

“Students and staff will not be expected to participate in 6 hours of continuous screen time on extended campus learning days,” the document stated. “Students will continue to have a lunch break, flexible time between classes, small and whole group instruction, extension and intervention opportunities, social-emotional learning, and independent study time throughout the day.” 

The middle school and high school will follow a similar plan but with adjustments to accommodate the number of students enrolled. Instead of being split into two groups, students will be split into four groups based on last name to allow only 25 percent of students on campus.

“One day per week will be reserved for extra support for students, teacher collaboration time, parent communication, building meetings, preparing materials and deep cleaning,” the document stated. “On a five day week, this will be reserved for Wednesdays. For shorter weeks such as the first week of school and Labor Day when no physical school is scheduled for Monday, the students will attend on Wednesday of that week.”

Students had been given the opportunity to choose complete at-home learning for the first quarter of the school year. Lucas stated that students who had already requested remote learning will still have the option to do so. The deadline for deciding whether or not a student wants to participate in extended campus learning has been extended to Tuesday, Aug. 4 at 5 p.m.

During times of uncertainty, Westside plans to continue providing social and emotional support for students that seek extra help. 

“In addition to classroom content delivery, school psychologists and counselors will be delivering supplemental lessons, conducting interventions, and meeting individually with students who may need additional support, resources, or services to ensure their wellbeing,” the document stated. Students that require special education or English Learner services will be accommodated by the Special Services professionals at their specific school. “School professionals will communicate directly with families to collaboratively develop or amend individualized student educational plans, to support and accommodate our learners,” the document stated. 

“This is an extremely difficult and unprecedented situation,” the document stated. “We are doing the best we can to offer as much as we can to our students in a format that our medical experts support. We hope to get to GREEN as soon as possible. Please hang in there with us.”