LPS Superintendent Dr. Steve Joel discusses “Back-to-School” plan

Dr. Joel discussed LPS's recent decision to require masks for pre-K through 6th grade students and staff along with the possibility of requiring face coverings for all classes.

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) — As Lancaster County reported three more COVID-19 related deaths on Monday, Dr. Steve Joel, the superintendent for Lincoln Public Schools, joined Channel 8’s morning show on Tuesday.

Dr. Joel discussed LPS’s recent decision to require masks for pre-K through 6th grade students and staff.

“There are just certain people that really struggle with that mandate,” Joel said. “We feel that’s in the best interest of all our students. We feel that gives us the best opportunity to get back to school safely.

“I think at the end of the day all our parents want our schools to be open. Certainly, there’s some difference in opinion when it comes to the wearing of masks.”

Joel added that if there is any outbreak, they don’t have a virtual plan in place this school year. They want to keep all classes in-person if they can.

“We want to limit the quarantine and isolation that comes with contact tracing. We don’t have a Zoom or virtual option this year.”

At the high school level and older grades of middles school, Joel said they have thought about implementing a mask mandate for all students across LPS. But for now, they hope to avoid it if they can.

“It could still happen,” Joel said. We just have to wait and see if as the date continues to be collected.”

Joel did add LPS high school students are approximately, a little more than 50 percent vaccinated.  Joel said he is encouraging all LPS students who are eligible to get vaccinated.

“We’re going to deal with isolated cases the way we’ve done this last year,” Joel said. “The hope is that in 30 days or 60 days, we are able to reevaluate. We want to get the masks off our kids. Get a return to normalcy as quickly as possible.”

As far as athletics, Dr. Joel said things will remain relatively close to how they were in the spring. So expect full capacity and limited face covering requirements.

You can watch the full interview by clicking the video above.

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