Superintendent Update for 08/10/2023
Parents and Guardians,
Before school starts on Monday, August 14th, I wanted to send out a welcome back message to all of you to let you know how excited we are to have all of our students back in the building next week. Hopefully, everyone was able to enjoy the summer break and recharge for another year of learning!
Listed below is some information related to a few topics we wanted to share before students come back on Monday.
District Cell Phone and Electronic Devices Procedures and Guidelines:
I am attaching the updated district guidelines for students and electronic devices at both buildings. We encourage you to review the document with your children about these expectations sometime before next week.
If you have any additional questions, please call our school offices.
Thank you in advance for your assistance and support in helping to reduce digital distractions for our kids.
Parking Flow and Traffic Control
As you might imagine, construction related challenges have forced us to change up our parking and traffic flow at both buildings. As contained in the summer newsletter that was distributed to all community patrons in July, the main entrance for the high school this year will be on the west side of the building near the old football field.
Students can park in the north and south parking lots at the high school and those students who drive will be issued school parking permits when they return to school. Please note that these numbered permits do not indicate reserved parking spots, however there will be different permit colors for different parking areas. Mr. Johnson will explain the parking and traffic flow plan in more detail on the first day of school and I have attached his video message again to this communication for your review.
At Bennet Elementary, the east parking lot is now complete and ready for traffic. I have attached a traffic flow document that will also be distributed at the Bennet Elementary Open House event on Thursday, August 10th. The traffic pattern flow depicted in this document will begin on Monday, August 14th. Please note that we will continue to analyze traffic efficiency in this area and make future changes as needed. Thank you in advance for following the patterns depicted in the document.
Summary of the Document:
ALL parent drop offs and/or pick ups must occur near the newly poured parking lot on the east side of the school. The entrance for the lot remains on the east side with access from the north on Jefferson Street. We are suggesting that parents travel west from Hwy 43 on Cottonwood, turn south (left) onto Jefferson going south toward Dogwood Street, and then turn right into the parking lot. The drop off lane will circle around the entire length of the parking lot. Upon exiting the lot, vehicles should turn right and proceed south down Jefferson Street. Please note that we will see how the traffic flow is working for the first couple of days and adjust as needed.
To make vehicle and student travel paths clear during drop off and/or pick up, volunteers in neon yellow vests will be present to guide traffic for the first few days next week. If you are unsure where to go, please look for a staff member or parent volunteer in a yellow vest.
Additionally, the south parking lot (near the preschool entrance) will not be available for parent drop off/pick up. Please note that we are recommending that Adams Street traffic will be one way heading south during school hours.
Please do not attempt to drive north on Adams Street from Elm Street to Dogwood Street during school hours.
If parents wish to walk their children up to the school, limited parking will be available on surrounding side streets. Please plan accordingly as these spots will fill up quickly. Additional note: please do not park on Jefferson or Dogwood streets during drop off or pickup hours, as these streets should remain open to ensure proper traffic flow.
You may also have noticed there is a new concrete/curbed area adjacent to the school on the north (Cottonwood) side of the school. This area is reserved for school buses during the school day and this area may NOT be used for parent pickup and/or drop off.
Student pickup/drop off is only allowable at the front (east) side of the building as shown on the provided drawing.
High School Prom Fee Clarification:
There have been a few questions regarding the new Prom fee ($15.00) for students (grades 7-11) at the high school. This fee is simply intended to defray costs that may be incurred during a student's senior year and reduce the need for additional fundraising. Post Prom is not included in this fee.
Parents have the choice to pay the entire fee up front or by the grade level year. Please call the high school office if you have additional questions regarding this topic.
Free and Reduced Lunch Applications:
If you think you will qualify for free or reduced meals, please remember to complete the Free/Reduced Application. You can find this application in our school offices. We can email one out to you or send one home with your student. Contact Lisa Phillips at (402) 780-5327 for any questions.
Thank you for all of your support of our staff, our students, and our district!
District OR-1 Student Personal Electronic Devices
Final for distribution
(Cell phones, headphones, earbuds, smartwatches, etc.)
Guidelines and Procedures for the 2023-2024 School Year
Updated. August 9th.2023
These guidelines and procedures are being implemented this year to help maximize instructional time,
reduce the number of outside distractions for students during the school day, standardize communication, and
enhance student and staff safety. Other Nebraska school districts have also implemented similar guidelines and
procedures and seen positive results. More specific information about these guidelines and procedures will be
shared with all students during the first week of school.
Rationale for Change:
Recent studies have shown that excessive cell phone and social media use are causing a mental health crisis for
children. These studies resulted in the U.S. Surgeon General releasing an advisory in May about the negative
effects of social media on teens’ mental health. Experts agree that children and teens need clear cut rules and
limitations when it comes to using digital devices and social media platforms.
Bennet Elementary School:
● The expectation remains that all elementary students (K-5) will keep personal electronic devices
turned off and kept in their backpacks during the school day.
● It is recommended these devices stay at home as the school is not responsible for the loss of personal
items brought to school.
● If a personal electronic device is confiscated from a student at school, the device will be sent to the
main office secretary and the building principal will talk with the student and communicate with the
parent or guardian about a plan to retrieve the device.
● Parents or guardians who need to communicate immediate information with their student during
school hours can continue to contact the elementary school office at (402) 782-3535 and a message
will be shared with the student as soon as possible.
Palmyra Junior / Senior High School
● Students may use their personal devices before and after school and during lunch in the lunchroom.
● All personal electronic devices must be out of sight and completely silenced or powered off during
passing periods, during the instructional period, and in the classroom. This includes the hallways,
common areas, gym, locker room, weight room, music room, etc.
● Smartwatches may be worn, but cannot be used for communication purposes. If a violation occurs
with a smartwatch, students will be asked to remove them to follow the digital device procedures.
● Earbuds and headphones will not be allowed in the classroom. If headphones are required for the
completion of an assignment, they will be provided by the teacher.
● Students who need to have electronic devices in order to monitor health conditions will continue to
follow their individualized plans. These conditions need to be documented and verified through
parents or guardians and the school nurse.
● If an electronic device is seen during the instructional period or passing period, the staff member will
follow this procedure:
○ The staff member will confiscate the phone or electronic device and the device will be sent to the main office.
■ The phone or electronic device will stay in the office for at least the rest of the school day, and the student will NOT be able to retrieve their phone or electronic device until a parent has been contacted and a plan to retrieve the device has been developed with a parent or guardian to retrieve the phone.
■ Please note: If the student does not comply with this request and refuses to turn over
the device, this interaction becomes a student disciplinary issue for refusal to comply
and not following directions. Consequences for refusal to comply and not following
directions will be administered in alignment with the Student Code of Conduct.
■ The teacher will contact the office and the device will be held in the main office for
the remainder of the day and the incident will be logged as an electronic device infraction.
■ Parents will be contacted about the process for returning the phone to the student.
● Students who need to contact parents/guardians for emergency reasons during the school day may
request to use the phone in the school office.
● Parents/guardians who need to communicate immediate information with their student during school
hours may contact the school office and a message will be shared with the student as soon as possible.
● Please note that the school is not responsible for the loss of student personal items brought to school.
● Students also have the opportunity and choice to leave their electronic device at home, in their vehicle,
or to place the electronic device in their school locker during the school day.
Digital Hall Passes (Palmyra Junior/Senior High School)
● Palmyra High School will also be utilizing a “digital hall pass” system for student requests to leave
class during instructional time.
● The “digital hall pass” system is designed to maximize instructional time, efficiently increase
communication between staff, and enhance school safety.
● Staff will be training students how to use the “digital hall pass” system with their Chromebooks during
the first week of school.
● To begin the school year, each student will be allowed three student-initiated passes per day to go to
the restroom, library, office, nurse, counselor or other classrooms. These passes are in addition to
before and after school time, lunch, and passing periods.
● Teachers, at their discretion, may allow student passes beyond the three pass limit based on
extenuating circumstances (student medical condition, etc.).
● The main office may provide passes to individuals with identified and documented medical concerns.
● In an emergency (trouble breathing, significant injury, etc.), students may leave the room immediately
and the teacher will notify the office/nurse of the situation.
● If a student doesn’t have their Chromebook, a staff member can create a digital pass at the request of the student.
● Paper passes will also be used when appropriate and as needed.
● Yes. It simply cannot be used by a student or seen by any staff member during instructional time
as indicated in the identified personal electronic devices guidelines and procedures.
What happens if someone sees my child using their phone in an unauthorized way and time during
the school day?
● The staff member will either confiscate the phone or send the student to the office to turn in the
● The phone or electronic device will stay in the office for at least the rest of the school day and the
student will NOT be able to retrieve their phone or electronic device until a parent has been
contacted and a plan to retrieve the device has been developed with a parent or guardian to come
to school and retrieve the phone.
Can my child use their phone during lunch?
● Yes, at Palmyra Junior/Senior High School. Students will be permitted to use their phones during
lunch time in the lunchroom area. However, students are encouraged to minimize screen time on
their phones as this is a great time to not only eat, but connect in person with their classmates, or
even perhaps make a new friend.
How will I be able to communicate with my child during the day if needed?
● Your child will have constant access to their Chromebook and can access email during the school
day. Also, parents and guardians can directly contact the office and have a message delivered to
the student. If parents or guardians would like to talk directly to their child, please call the school
office and staff will get the child out of class to return or take the call.
The school uses the Band app. How will my child be able to get those notifications?
● Coaches and sponsors during the school day can communicate those changes in real time with
their participants via school announcements, in person meetings, or via email.
● The Band app can also be accessed through the student’s Chromebook as well.
What if my child needs their cell phone or electronic device to complete a homework assignment?
● No homework assignment should require the use of a cell phone. If another device is required,
teachers will communicate this information in advance to both students and parents.
● If a student does not have access to the required device, a plan will be created to make sure the
student can still complete the assignment and receive full credit.
What about extra curricular activities? Will kids get their phones back before getting on the bus
(especially if they are traveling to away events) for games, field trips, activities, etc?
● Yes, students will be permitted to use their phones on the bus and other school transportation. All
school rules concerning behavior and interactions, etc. still apply on school sponsored trips and
If a phone or electronic device is confiscated, what happens if a parent can't come to the school
during building hours to retrieve it?
● Parents will need to make arrangements with the office. There is someone in the office by 7:00
a.m. most mornings and if someone needs to stay late, arrangements can be made to pick up the
device in an alternate location within the school.
● If no one is available to stay, arrangements will need to be made to pick up the device the
following day. Parents with this concern should take precautions to ensure their student
understands these guidelines, procedures and associated consequences.
Won’t email now become a distraction instead of the phones?
● While it is true that students will still be able contact their parents, peers, etc. through email, this
mode of communication is monitored for student safety through a district approved filtering
system and what students say to each other is recorded and documented.
● We will continue to model and teach appropriate messaging to our students to minimize concerns,
but the largest distraction and safety concern to our students is unfiltered, inappropriate, and
unauthorized content. Games, Tik Toks, Youtube videos, and social media platforms like
SnapChat, X, Instagram, etc. provide the largest distraction for our students.
Will students have access to Youtube, Instagram, etc. through their Chromebooks at school?
● The school has purchased software called LineWise that will allow teachers to essentially “lock
out” everything on the internet except where the teacher wants the students to go. For example, if
a teacher wants students to watch a Youtube video on the Gettysburg Address, they can “unlock”
the weblink for that site and the students will have access to only that Youtube link.
● Certain websites will always be “unlocked” such as Canvas, Powerschool, the school website, etc.
as they are district approved sites.
● If students are able to somehow work around school filtering systems or find themselves on
unauthorized platforms, we will be able to still monitor those interactions in order to help keep
our students as safe as possible.
Traffic Flows During Construction
Palmyra Traffic Flow Video