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Superintendent Note: 09-30-2021


Good Afternoon, Panther Families:

Due to the updated information regarding the extension of the Lincoln Lancaster County Health Department’s Directed Health Measure (DHM), I wanted to provide another update for you before we get to the end of the week. 

Current District OR-1 COVID  Data: 

  • Updated 9.30.2021: In terms of COVID-19 data specifically related to our district, we have had 14 positive student cases (7 at the elementary and 7 at the high school) and 3 staff positive cases (1 at the elementary and 2 at the high school) in the district since the beginning of school on Wednesday, August 11th for a total of 17 total positive cases. 

  • Our district numbers were elevated a bit this week, but overall our staff and students continue to do very well with following our protocols and doing what is needed to contain the possible spread of the virus.  

  • All current “close contacts” associated with these identified positive cases have been notified and those individuals have either been quarantined or are self-monitoring and masking in accordance with local county health department guidance. We will remain vigilant in monitoring our positive cases and “close contacts” and take necessary measures to mitigate possible future spread of the virus. These protocols help us remain proactive in keeping our students and staff safely in school whenever possible.

  • Thank you again for your patience as we continue to learn how to most effectively navigate the evolving circumstances associated with the pandemic. 

Directed Health Measure (DHM) Extended: 

  • The Lancaster County Health Department (LLCHD) announced on Tuesday (9/28/2021) that the current DHM requiring mask wearing indoors in Lancaster County will be extended through Thursday, October 28, 2021. 

  • Please click here to access the LLCHD COVID-19 dashboard to learn more about current local conditions.     


Impact of the DHM on District OR-1: 

  • The continuation of the Lancaster County mask mandate doesn’t change our current “Safe Return to School'' plan. As a reminder, face masks will continue to be required for everyone at Bennet Elementary through the duration of the Directed Health Measure (Thursday, October 28th). 

  • Masks will also continue to be required for all students and staff riding on district school buses and vehicles through the duration of the Directed Health Measure (Thursday, October 28th). This includes activity trips.

  • We will continue to carefully monitor our current district health conditions and we will make necessary adjustments and recommendations as the COVID-19 conditions change.  

  • Any changes will be communicated to our patrons as soon as possible through a community update or through our district communication channels. 

 Vaccination Information:

  • Pfizer recently submitted vaccine data to the FDA and are expected to pursue authorization in the coming weeks.  

  • The most recent timeline estimates we have received suggest that children aged 5-11 may gain first shot access to the Pfizer vaccine sometime before the end of this year. We will continue to keep parents posted as we receive information from our local health departments.

  • The City of Lincoln provides updates every weekday that include the latest data and information on COVID. These are all posted at covid19.lincoln.ne.gov and on the city’s home page at Lincoln.ne.gov

  • Listed below are some additional resources regarding vaccines: 

Board of Education Vacancy Information: 

  • There is still time if you would like to consider applying for the current opening on our Board of Education. 

  • If you are a registered voter, live within the boundaries of the school district, and are interested in applying for our current board opening, please contact our district office at (402) 780-5327 or come by the high school in Palmyra and pick up an application. 

  • Applications will be accepted through Friday, October 1st at 4:00 p.m. 

  • Completed applications should be addressed to:  Brandon Desh, President of the Board of Education: District OR-1 Public School District, 425 F. Street, Palmyra, NE 68418.\

Strategic Planning 

 As I stated in our last community update, we are in the process of completing a new Strategic Planning process for our district. A critical aspect of effective strategic planning is to gather input and recognize the expectations of district and community stakeholders on issues related to the education of our students, their academic achievement, and the environments in which they learn. 

  • To assist in this role, the board has enlisted the support of the Nebraska Association of School Boards (NASB) to facilitate the engagement of community stakeholders for Strategic Planning.

    • Strategic Planning Survey:  If you have not already gotten the survey, NASB will be sending out a survey to all parents and students in grades 5-12 asking for input on our upcoming Strategic Planning process. Thank you in advance for answering the survey!

    • Strategic Planning Community Engagement Meeting: 

  • We are hosting a 90 minute Strategic Planning Community Engagement meeting on Sunday, November 7th, 2021 beginning at 7:00 p.m. at Palmyra High School in the main gym.  

  • All community members are invited to attend the community engagement meeting to share their thoughts and ideas about how to continue to make our school district even better. 

  • More information about this meeting and the Strategic Planning process will be available and posted on our website and social media channels throughout the month of October and early November. 

  • We hope to see you on Sunday, November 7th at the high school.   

  • Listed below are the questions we will be asking community members at the community engagement meeting. 

  • Identify the points of pride, accomplishments, and achievements of the school district.

  • Identify the future challenges that may impact the district and the community and how this may affect the school district.

  • Identify the knowledge and skills a student should possess as a graduate of the school district.

  • How can the board/district improve communication to inform patrons of the district’s needs and priorities?

  • If you are unable to attend the community engagement meeting on Sunday, November 7th, we will also provide other options for community input. Please look for these input opportunities on our district website and social media platforms in the coming weeks.

 Social Media Posting and Information:

  • Social media can be a very powerful thing and provide some extremely positive experiences for students and families, but we must also remain vigilant that there are sites and information that can be harmful to children and we may not even know it. Social media can be a wonderful tool, but it can often be used to spread misinformation or misrepresented information which can have unintended or negative consequences for individuals and organizations. 

  • As parents and school officials, it is hard to know everything that is going on in the “wild, wild west world” of social media, and it is impossible for schools to monitor and respond to all of the digital activity that takes place with our students. However, working together we can help keep our children safe by talking about social media and setting solid boundaries regarding digital usage.  

  • In light of various “challenges” recently promoted through social media platforms like TicToc, etc. this is just a reminder for parents to talk with their students about social media, examine digital device content, limit screen time, and stay vigilant about monitoring social media usage. 

  • Just a few things to consider: 

    • Don’t let kids charge the phone or tablet in the bedroom. 

    • Place computers in public parts of the house.

    • Consider “Technology Timeouts”: Limit texting during meals, homework time, etc.

  • Safe Sharing Tips for Parents on Social Media 

  • Instagram Information

Thank you again for your support for our students, our staff, and our district. 

Have a great rest of your day!