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Back-To-School Guidance from Mr. Hart

July 31,  2020

Greetings Panther families,

I wanted to take a minute to introduce myself and let you know that I am extremely excited to be a part of District OR-1, and I look forward to getting to know our students and families and serving our community. With your support and the support of our school and community, we will continue to maximize each child’s unique potential.  I am excited to get to meet all of you and hope to see many of you throughout the school year at school events, academic celebrations, and other activities. 

My name is Michael Hart, and I am originally from Lincoln.  After graduating from UNL, I taught in Omaha Public Schools (Morton Middle School) and Lincoln Public Schools (Dawes Middle School). For the past nineteen years, I was a school administrator for Norfolk Public Schools. On a personal note, I have been married to my wife Sharon for 24 years, and we have two boys (Austin and Brandon) who are both out of high school. I am very blessed to also have extended family in the area, and it has been great to get to see them on a more frequent basis.  

Even though I haven’t “officially” met all of our staff yet, I can tell you that our district has amazing teachers and support staff. The ones I have been fortunate enough to meet  have been great at helping me adjust to this new role, and I am confident they will continue to work diligently to provide your child with the best educational experience possible. 

School operations this year will be different to be sure, but together we can weather these challenges, and I am confident that, in the end, these challenges will strengthen our foundation and solidify our community values. This pandemic is unlike anything we have ever experienced before, and the fluidity of the ever-changing conditions and ambiguity surrounding it may continue to frustrate us and make us anxious and fearful. Our concerns are real, but we still must collectively find the resolve to move forward. Thinking back, we have been out of school since the second week of March. Not in my wildest dreams did I ever think that was a possibility. 

Fast forward six months and we still find ourselves with plenty of uncertainty, and many of us are still dealing with the very real trauma of sudden change and the ever-present shadow of fear. Although the threat of Covid-19 still exists, we are committed to providing the best possible instructional environment for students regardless of the circumstances the virus presents.

Communication is key, and one of the best ways to stay connected to school information throughout the school year is to bookmark our school website at www.districtor1.org. Please use this site and follow our social media accounts on Twitter and Facebook to stay informed about the news and daily happenings in the district. 

Throughout the rest of this document, I want to briefly summarize some areas of our “Back to School” plan. More specific details are contained in the full “Return to School” plan that will be posed on our school website at this link: www.districtor1.org/.   

The first day of school for the 2020/2021 school year is Thursday, August 13th.  Prior to school starting, we will be distributing masks for students on Monday, August 10th from 5-7 p.m. at both buildings.  To begin school this year, we will be using the Lancaster County and Southeast District Health Department “Risk Dials” to assist us with decisions about how to operate during the pandemic. The “Risk Dials” for our communities can be accessed at the following sites:

Screenings for Students:

  • Parents are encouraged to screen students prior to leaving for school. 
  • Students will be screened upon entering each building. Students with a temperature of 100.4 or greater should stay home.

Pick-up / Drop-Off of Students

  • Parents must remain in their vehicles during pick-up and drop-off until conditions change. 

Entering Building:

  • Current social distancing practices will be in place. 
  • Students will enter through assigned doors.
  • Early entry into the building will be considered in extreme weather temperatures/conditions.


  • Green Level: Required for staff, recommended for students.
  • Yellow Level: Required for all staff and students.
  • Orange Level: Required for all staff and students.

Hand Washing /Hand Sanitizing:

  • Students and staff will wash or sanitize their hands frequently throughout the school day.

Cafeteria / Meals:

  • Elementary: Breakfast/Lunch: KDG-3rd grade will eat in classrooms; 4th-6th grade will eat in the lunchroom. 
  • JH / HS: We may increase the  number of lunch periods and eat in additional common spaces to allow for social distancing as needed.

Water Fountains:

  • We are asking all students and staff members to use water bottles throughout the 2020-2021 school year.

Exiting the Building:

  • HS:  Students will exit through predetermined designated points.
  • Elementary: Students will exit through predetermined designated points. Parents must remain in vehicles and outside the building if walking.

Visitors to School:

  • Access will be extremely limited to school extracurricular activities and appointments must be made ahead of time. 

Bus Transportation:

  • Students will be assigned seats and will be required to wear masks as conditions dictate; drivers and riders will be required to wear masks.

Extracurricular Activities:

  • For high school NSAA-governed activities, the District will follow the NSAA Return to Activities document, or any additional forthcoming guidance from NSAA,

Recess (Elementary):

  • Outside recess will be allowed as scheduled if weather conditions allow and DHMs are followed.           

In summary, I want to say “thank you”. Thank you for choosing District OR1 Schools,  and thank you in advance for your flexibility, patience, and support as we navigate these uncharted waters. Our district remains tremendously appreciative of the support of our families and community members, and it is our hope to return to and keep students on “on-site learning” experiences to the maximum extent possible. Whether you have children at the elementary or the high school, I also want to say thank you in advance for your support of our district and our staff. Through our strong collaborative efforts and a positive school-and-home connection, great growth and success will continue to take place for our kids. 

If you do need assistance before school starts, please feel free to stop by or call the school offices at 402-780-5327.

We look forward to seeing all of you very soon!