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Ricketts and college officials talk back-to-school

Gov. Ricketts along with college presidents talk back-to-school reopening for fall semester.
Gov. Ricketts along with college presidents talk back-to-school reopening for fall semester.(KSNB)
Published: Aug. 10, 2020 at 12:27 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KSNB) - Governor Pete Ricketts held a back-to-school briefing on Monday morning with representatives from Nebraska’s state colleges and private institutions of higher learning.

Ricketts reiterated that he feels campuses need to get back to in person learning. Ricketts said he feels the systems are able to safely do so given the resources and measures in place that weren’t available in March.

Paul Turman, Chancellor of the Nebraska State College System which includes Chadron State, Wayne State and Peru State thanked the governor for being so available in recent months to discuss reopening steps.

“Students and staff will have adequate PPE. Campuses are taking a different approach to attendance than they have before. They will now be taking attendance because they want to know when students are on campus,” said Turman.

Turman also said they will not penalize students for not coming to classes when they aren’t feeling well.

Turman went on to say that the key to success is to build a college community that can support each other.

Outside of encouraging good hygiene, Turman said the schools have put into place many sanitizing stations, they will socially distance when possible and if not possible, students will wear masks.

“We are also encouraging students to use various testing programs, including on campus testing. If they aren’t feeling well or were in a compromised situation they can easily be tested on campus and those results will be sent to the proper labs,” said Turman.

Darrin Good, President of Nebraska Wesleyan spoke on behalf of the 13 Nebraska schools that belong to the council of independent colleges, “Our schools have collaborated on how to put together process and protocols. We have received our requests for PPE from the state. Over the months we’ve been able to receive a lot of help to protect our students, staff and therefore our communities,” he said.

Good went on to say that their schools have much smaller classes on average and that personal attention and face to face attendance is important. He said they feel blessed and feel as though they will have a safe return to campus.

Good said they also have a variety of test protocols and that they can test on campus and then take samples to be processed when needed.

Good also spoke about athletics saying, “35 to 60 percent of our students participate in sports in our colleges. Our 13 schools are in five different athletic conferences - we’ve all been working closely to work with our national organizations as well as our local health departments and local and state governments to try to determine the best practices and to try and offer athletics. We know how important they are to the students and to their college experiences,” he said.

Both the State and Independent systems have asked their students to take a pledge to do what they can outside of campus to stay safe by not attending bars, parties or other communities in order to help keep themselves and their campus safe.

Ricketts also mentioned that the state data the White House is using isn’t correct when calculating the states COVID-19 positive rate.

“We are working with the White House to get just the state positive rates that are coming from positive people who are being tested multiple times over. Our state does not have a 10 percent positivity rate,” he said.

Copyright 2020 KSNB. All rights reserved.

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