The public was able to get an overview of Grand Island Public Schools’ plan of action for the coronavirus pandemic during an emergency board of education meeting Monday night.
Due to ongoing concern about the coronavirus, the meeting was held virtually via Zoom.
Superintendent Tawana Grover said the district assembled a pandemic response team that worked “extensively” over the last two weeks and met on a weekly basis to ensure GIPS did the necessary planning and took the steps to address COVID-19.
The GIPS pandemic team includes cabinet members, communications team members, a member of the district’s nursing staff, child nutrition staff members, a safety and security team member and a member of the district’s information technology department.
In her report to the board, Grover said the plan outlines its coordinated action steps, school closure and reopening procedures at the direction of the Central District Health Department, and means of communicating the district’s messages to the public.
“The purpose of the GIPS pandemic plan is to provide a framework for communicating, preventing, responding to and recovering from a pandemic outbreak and any life-complicating conditions that may impact GIPS,” she said. “This is intended to assist both the district and building-level administration with preparedness, prevention, response and recovery.”
Grover said the coordinated action steps identified in the pandemic plan allow the district to identify the risks of a pandemic all the way from a low Level 1 risk, to a high Level 4 risk.
She added the plan also includes preparation, communication, reporting of illnesses, sanitation and cleaning, continuation of academic learning, school dismissal and closure, compensation of staff, and the opening of schools at the direction of CDHS.
Grover said that on Monday, the district began operating in its “continuation of student learning action plan,” with e-learning. GIPS students were able to get the devices and materials they need to carry out online learning using Zoom or hangout meets.
As schools are closed due to the coronavirus, Grover said she wants parents to know that students’ grades are frozen until further notice. If students need to improve their current grades, they should reach out to their teachers to develop an alternative learning plan to allow them to improve their grades.
“We are in the midst of our school closure of our physical space until further notice,” she said. “At that time, we will be able to discuss and roll out any reopening as we move through those processes. At this particular time, we do not have a return date and are closed as we know it to date.”
Grover said GIPS has guidelines in place for its counselors and social workers to support the mental health needs of the district’s students. The district is also providing curbside meals to all Grand Island students.
Prior to Grover’s report, the GIPS board voted unanimously to approve an emergency resolution due to COVID-19.
The resolution authorizes Grover to adjust the school calendar to meet statutory requirements for hours of instruction due to loss of instructional days; to make emergency expenditures, enter into contracts and incur obligations for emergency purposes; and to make adjustments to work schedules and related compensation and benefits due to COVID-19.
Grover noted resolutions previously approved by the board allow compensation for all staff while schools are closed due to the coronavirus.
“We are also able to continue payroll processing as normal,” she said. “It is critical that we maintain all of our payroll functions and we have provided all the equipment necessary to continue this process. We will continue to take care of accounts receivable, as well as other business operations through our remote processes.”