State ed commissioner recommends schools remain closed through end of school year

State ed commissioner recommends schools remain closed through end of school year

From the Latest updates on coronavirus in Lincoln and nearby series

The State Education Commissioner has recommended that the state’s schools stay closed for the remainder of the year and continue "alternative instruction" to students at home.

In a letter to the state’s public and private school superintendents Monday, Commissioner Matt Blomstedt said he recommended schools “not return to normal operations this year,” saying his message comes in the form of a recommendation only because he doesn’t have the authority to require it.

That power lies with the governor and health officials, he said. The governor’s guidelines include closing schools for 6-8 weeks when health officials identify one or two “community-spread” cases.

Matthew Blomstedt

Matthew Blomstedt

The letter said the governor and state health officials support the recommendation.

In a health directive last week — a day after Douglas County health department officials announced a second “community-spread" case and issued a prohibition on public gatherings of more than 10 people — Gov. Pete Ricketts ordered schools in Sarpy, Cass, Douglas and Washington counties remain closed until April 30.

On Wednesday, Lincoln Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird mandated similar quarantine guidelines after Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department officials identified its first “community-spread” case.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7226 or mreist@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSreist

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More than 3,000 high school seniors in Lincoln are graduating into a world nobody’s navigated before, staring into a pandemic that has closed schools, slashed families’ economic security and, for many graduates, changed their college plans.

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