Governor Ricketts Urges Continued Social Distancing, Education Commissioner Blomstedt Gives Update on Schools

Gov. Ricketts (podium) and Nebraska Department of Education Commissioner Matthew Blomstedt (far left) at Thursday, April 16, 2020 press conference.

Thursday afternoon, Governor Pete Ricketts reiterated Nebraska’s strategy to combat COVID-19 by practicing strict social distancing through at least the end of April.

He commended Nebraskans for their efforts to stay home and stay healthy, and he urged the state’s residents not to relax their guard.

Nebraska Department of Education Commissioner Matthew Blomstedt joined the Governor at today’s press conference.  He provided an update on schools’ ongoing operations via distance learning.  He also talked about the various ways schools are handling graduation for the Class of 2020.

Commissioner Blomstedt: Schools Summary

“Schools are well aware of the types of challenges Nebraskans are facing right now. I’m meeting with an advisory group of 24 superintendents to talk about:

o  How to keep families safe, informed, and connected to schools.

o  Our ongoing efforts to finish out the 2019-2020 academic year.

o  Our plans for summer school in 2020.

o  Long-term planning for the fall of 2020.

We encourage Nebraskans to follow the Governor’s Six Rules and to abide by the State’s Directed Health Measure (DHM) as they think about honoring graduates in the Class of 2020. Most schools can’t have an in-person graduation under the DHM rules and will postpone ceremonies until it’s safe for larger social gatherings to take place.

There’s been thoughtful leadership from schools around the state about options for summer schooling.  We’re considered remote learning environments.  We’ve also discussed dividing students into small cohorts, similar to how daycares are operating now.

As we engage in long-term planning, we’re looking very closely at data and having conversations about our strategy for the fall.”

John Chapo, President/CEO of the Lincoln Children’s Zoo, also participated in the afternoon press briefing.  He announced that the zoo will be offering 75 free, virtual, and interactive tours to school groups.

John Chapo: Lincoln Children’s Zoo Summary

The Lincoln Children’s Zoo is an educational institution and is looking for ways to continue to serve Nebraskans. For example, the online Keeper Corner gives kids the opportunity to listen to zookeepers and learn about animals even if they cannot be at the zoo.

The zoo will provide a limited number of virtual, interactive tours to schools across the state of Nebraska which are available for up to 100 students at a time, with everyone participating virtually.

For more information, schools should go to lincolnzoo.org and select “Education” and then “Virtual Field Trips” from the drop-down menu.

Full video of today’s press briefing is available by clicking here.



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