McCook Public Schools releases re-opening plan

Friday, July 17, 2020

McCOOK, Neb.— McCook Public Schools will have a normal start to the year if all essential elements of re-opening can be met, according to guidelines posted on the school district’s website.The 34-page plan covers all aspects of school participation at different “risk” levels, including when masks are required or when cohorting will be required, where students are grouped together to minimize the mixing of students. McCook Public Schools are set to open Aug. 18 and 19.Risk levels on the risk dial, as identified by the local health department, are: Green:Low or no risk of spread; Yellow: Minimal or moderate risk of spread; Orange: Elevated risk of spread (Potential for limited building or classroom closures); and Red: High risk of spread (All buildings closed and alternative education employed). Currently the district is identified at yellow, or minimal or moderate risk of spread.

If parents of a student or a teacher are not comfortable in attending school, they can contact the building principal and come up with a plan, said McCook Schools superintendent, Grant Norgaard.

The “Quick Reference Guide” is summarized, below. The entire plan can be viewed at the, under “Bison Health and COVID-19 Resource Page.”

Start of the 2020-2021 School Normal start of the year with no closures (Level low/green and moderate/yellow)

McCook Public Schools will have a normal start to the year if all of the essential elements of reopening can be met. This means that teachers will start the school year on August 14 with students starting on August 18th and 19th. We believe that having school operating under normal procedures or as close to normal procedures as possible will provide the very best learning environment for McCook students. 

Normal start of the year with closures 

McCook Public Schools will have a normal start to the year if all of the essential elements of reopening can be met. This means that teachers will start the school year on August 14 with students starting on August 18th and 19th. We believe that having school operating under normal procedures or as close to normal procedures as possible will provide the very best learning environment for McCook students. We do recognize that the potential for a local Covid-19 epidemic breakout is possible, if such a scenario occurs after the start of the school year, and our local conditions change to a level orange or red, we will have to adjust our instructional practice to protect student & staff well-being. This may require a building or buildings to close for short periods of time to allow for those with the illness to be identified by the health department. Once the school can meet the essential elements of reopening, the school will be reopened.

School Calendar

The school is planning on following its Board approved 2020-2021 school calendar. 

Adjustments to the school day and calendar may occur as conditions in our schools and local area change with the rise and fall of COVID-19 cases.

McCook Public Schools will follow the guidance of state and local health department officials when considering changes to school operations.

Masks or face covering will be required (Coverings must cover the nose and mouth)

When students are riding in a school vehicle where social distancing is not possible with the COVID-19 Risk Dial indicates moderate, elevated, and/or pandemic conditions. 

When the COVID-19 Risk Dial indicates conditions are elevated (Orange).

When a student or staff member exhibits COVID-19 symptoms.

When students spend 15 or more minutes in close proximity to each other. 

Please note that every student will be provided with 2 washable cloth masks.

Masks, gaiters, and other face coverings are encouraged

All of the time

Social Distancing

While maintaining 6 feet of separation at all times will not be possible at school, students and staff are directed to socially distance whenever feasible and to maximize space to separate students as much as possible. 

Elementary students will be paired or placed in small groups with little to no mingling with other groups. Doing this will help to minimize contact with others.

The use of barriers, face shields and masks will be utilized when 6 feet of separation cannot be achieved.

All courses and classes will design lesson plans which  keep students socially distanced, or they will have other measures employed to provide barriers for protection.

No assemblies or large gatherings of students and staff will take place.

Drop-off and Pick-up

All students will be assigned specific entry and exit points from the school building. Entry and exit points will coincide with the location of the students beginning and ending classroom location. 

Parents are asked to check their student’s health before leaving for school to ensure they do not have COVID-19 symptoms.

Parents are to remain in their vehicles during drop-off and pick-up. And parents will be given instructions as to where they are to drop off their students.

Students are to socially distance as they enter and as they leave the building.

Students and staff will have their temperatures checked at the beginning of the school day.

Parents are asked to contact the school before coming into the building to pick up their child, and to abide by the school visitors guidelines found below:


Daily routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces

Tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, sinks, etc.

Close off areas used by the person who is sick for at least 24 hours and then clean the area thoroughly..

Schools do not necessarily need to close operations, if they can close off affected areas.

Hand Washing and Sanitizer

Students will wash their hands whenever they enter the school building.

Students will wash their hands or use sanitizer between classes and before leaving the building. 

Students will wash their hands or use sanitizer before and after lunch.

What happens if a Student or Staff Member Has a Positive COVID Identification

Southwest Nebraska Department of Health officials will be collaborated with concerning school operations.

Students or staff who show symptoms of a COVID-19 infection will be sent home. Parents of a student who is displaying symptoms will be contacted. 

Quarantine measures for individual classrooms and possible building closures may be recommended by the Southwest Nebraska Department of Health for students who are in the same class or school as an infected person. 

Substitute teachers

When the District is unable to find a substitute teacher to fill in for an ill teacher the class or class period will be dismissed until the teacher returns or a substitute can be found. Classes will not be combined at the elementaries this year.

Water Fountains & Water Bottles

Students are encouraged to bring their own water bottles to school everyday since water fountains will not be in use.

Water bottles should be clearly labeled with the student’s name on it and have a lid that will keep water from leaking out if tipped over.

School Visitors Should

Notify the school before entering the building.

Wash or sanitize their hands before entering the buildings

Socially distance while in the building.

Wear a mask while in the building or make special arrangements with the school before entering. 

Busses and School Vehicles

Students may be temperature checked before taking their seat.

Students will be required to wear a mask while in the bus or other school vehicle if there is not enough room to socially distance.

Students will be given assigned seating.


Lunch times will be adjusted to provide for more space to allow social distancing.

Students will be temperature checked prior to lunch time.

All students will be assigned to a table to minimize student interactions

Elementary students will be assigned to a table with other students who are assigned to the same classroom.

Extracurricular Activities

It is our intent to allow students to engage in extracurricular activities during the 2020-2021 school year whenever it is deemed appropriate and safe to do so.

All activities will function in accordance with guidelines from local and state health department agencies, and in alignment with the rules established by the Nebraska Scholastic Activities Association and the Nebraska Department of Education.

Event seating will follow the guidelines set out by local and state health departments. Which may mean that occupancy will be capped to a percentage of the occupancy limits of the event site. 

Alternate School Schedule

An alternate school schedule may be employed if local COVID-19 cases rise to the level of elevated. The decision to move to an alternate school schedule will be made with the support of the local health department. No preset numbers have been determined.Â

Parents would be notified by an automated caller if an alternate schedule is put into effect, and alternate calendar cohort groups will be made up and provided to parents prior to the start of the school year.

Virtual or Alternative Education (starts when classes are dismissed)

Students may be dismissed from school for short durations during this pandemic for a number of reasons. 

The Risk Dial conditions reach a pandemic/red level.

Students or staff in your child’s classroom have been positively identified as having been infected with the COVID-19 virus.

Your child’s classroom teacher is sick (for any reason) and no substitute teacher can be found to fill in. The school will not combine classrooms during this COVID-19 pandemic when substitutes cannot be found to fill in..

If the state or local health officials/authorities recommend moving to virtual/alternative learning.

Alternative learning will be largely virtual for students grades 4 -12 and the use of some virtual learning and some packets for students in grades PreK-3. 


While the school will work hard to limit the amount of risk in a school it is not possible to eliminate it. Risk will exist even though the school will take measures to mitigate it.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: