LINCOLN – With many schools still waiting to start their new school year, many kids are beginning another week of classes.
Nebraska Governor, Pete Ricketts was once again joined by Nebraska Department of Education (NDE) Commissioner Matthew Blomstedt during a press briefing discussing the start of the 2020-21 school year across Nebraska.
John Wyvill, Executive Director of the Nebraska Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and Piyush Srivastav, Vice-Chair of the Foundation for Lincoln Public Schools were also in attendance.
Governor Ricketts began the briefing as he has done all previous ones with updated numbers pertaining to COVID-19 stating the restrictions and social distancing guidelines are all meant to preserve hospital capacity.
“This is a virus and we cannot stop it from coming,” said Ricketts. “It is going to be in our community. But what we can do is make sure that we maintain our hospital system in a way that we can provide that hospital bed, that ICU bed or that ventilator to anybody who needs them when they need them. That’s what we’ve done very successfully here in Nebraska.”
As of earlier this week Nebraska’s hospital capacity is at 37%, ICU beds are at 40% and ventilator capacity is 82%. Of the about 4,000 beds in the state, about 140 coronavirus patients are using those beds.
Commissioner Blomstedt added there’s been a level of excitement from the students, teachers and families to be back in school.
“I actually think it’s one of those things that at least feels right,” Blomstedt added. “To able return to school and see students approaching school buildings and those things starts to make it feel right. But we know that we have to also enter into that with thoughtful planning that’s been taking place all along.”
Governor Ricketts would like to thank the teachers and administrators for all the work they’re putting in.
“To be able to bring our kids back into the classrooms,” Rickets mentioned. “So, we really appreciate that and certainly urge parents to again be patient and show grace as we go through this. We’re learning this all together and as the commissioner (Blomstedt) said, if we find something that’s not working schools will adjust and make changes.”
Ricketts will hold the Governor’s Kickoff to the Nebraska State Fair in Grand Island this Saturday, August 29 at 8:30 a.m. followed by remarks to the opening program at 9:30 a.m. Saturday.
Governor Ricketts also provided additional Coronavirus Relief to local governments Monday. The State of Nebraska updated guidance for local governments seeking COVID relief reimbursement. This new guidance now allows qualified applicants to seek “reimbursement for presumptive payroll expenses for public safety employees for the period March 1, 2020 thru May 31, 2020.”
Copy of the guidance issued to counties, cities, municipalities and villages can be found by clicking here.