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LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — State health officials say another COVID-19 death has been reported in Nebraska, bringing the state's total to 15. The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services said in a news release late Thursday that the death, reported out of the Omaha area, was a woman in her 60s with underlying health conditions. The department also reported that Burt County in northeastern Nebraska and Polk County in east-central Nebraska both reported their first cases of the virus on Thursday. As of Friday morning, the state reported 577 cases of COVID-19 and more than 8,250 testing negative for the disease.

Grand Island Public Schools will provide 125 Verizon Jetpacks to identified families in an effort to ensure equity and access to all students for eLearning.

GIPS identified four priorities during the COVID-19 pandemic: eLearning, food distribution, social emotional and mental health supports, and equity and access. The district worked to address the digital divide and close the connectivity gap so all students could participate in eLearning. 

“Internet connectivity for our students is crucial to us at this time,” Superintendent Dr. Tawana Grover said. “We knew it was up to us to make the necessary decision to provide these resources so our students can stay safe, stay healthy and stay connected.”

Internet connectivity should no longer be a barrier to learning. Dr. Grover said the district is counting on students to learn the contents and continue to thrive.

“While we aren’t counting grades in the gradebooks,” Grover said, “we are counting on students learning the content we are teaching and being ready to move forward when we start school in the fall.”

Principals identified students who didn’t have internet access at home. The principals will contact the families and arrange a time to pick up the Jetpack at their school, with no face-to-face contact. Families who still may be in need of the internet for their student may contact their principal, social worker or counselor.

Cory Gearhart, Executive Director of Information Technology, said providing Jetpacks is one thing that can help remove a barrier for students.

“Teachers are having to use many different resources online so students can continue learning. The lack of internet at home for some families is a barrier to their child’s ability to maintain and grow in their learning,” Gearhart said.

Dr. Jonathan Doll, Chief Data Analyst and Organizational Strategist, said internet access has never been a problem when students were in the school building, so the district doesn’t want it to be a problem in the eLearning environment.

Dr. Toni Palmer, Chief of Leadership and Learning, said providing Jetpacks to students opens the door for new types of learning for all students.

“The classroom has transformed from brick and mortar to the virtual environment,” Palmer said. “Although teachers are still focusing on essential standards, they have to plan activities and engagement in creative and innovative ways through online tools and resources.”

“It’s important for our students to stay connected to their teachers and peers during this time,” Palmer said. “Not only for continued learning, but to maintain connections and support.”

Dr. Grover said students and families should know that they can count on GIPS for access and the opportunity to continue learning. 

“During the year, students could come up to the campus and take advantage of wifi. This is simply not a solution during this time,” Grover said. “We want to protect students and honor social distancing. These Jetpacks extend our reach and keep kids safe.” 

It’s an issue bigger than eLearning, she said.

“Internet connectivity is so crucial because even though our daily face-to-face opportunities are not possible at this time, when a student is able to see their friends, classmates, teachers - even if it is over the screen - it brings them joy and helps them overcome social isolation,” Dr. Grover said. “We want to bring them hope and possibly the strength they need to thrive and survive this pandemic.” 

“While our methods may have changed, our mission remains constant to every student, every day a  success.” 

(CDHD Release) - Central District Health Department (CDHD) reports 105 lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases as of 2 p.m. today. This includes 2 in Merrick County, 9 in Hamilton County, and 94 in Hall County. The increasing number is concerning but not unexpected given the trend we have seen in these past two weeks. If the trend continues, we will continue to see notably larger numbers each day.

Stay home: We each can do our best to slow that growth. Stay home where you are away from the exposure to the virus. Order your groceries on-line and pick up at the outside pickup stations. Designate one person to go to the store if needed once weekly. Wear a mask in public. Keep your hand sanitizer handy and apply frequently. Wash your hands with soap and warm water when available. 

Stay healthy: Lead a healthy lifestyle. Get adequate sleep and think health foods when choosing what to eat and serve for meals. Make time for physical activity either in your home or on a hike and bike trail. Practice meditation or other stress management techniques. Talk to your children about what is going on. Remain calm and reassuring, and help them practice healthy habits.

Stay connected: COVID-19 news is everywhere and can be overwhelming. Choose an accurate source of information like our website: or the CDC website:  Check in each day but not all day. Stay connected electronically with family and friends and to share holiday greetings.

We have several rough weeks ahead of us, but together, we are stronger.

Grand Island Public Schools has announced the hiring of Dr. Allison Bailey as the GEAR UP Director.

“We are pleased to welcome Dr. Bailey to the GIPS team,” Superintendent Dr. Tawana Grover said. “Dr. Bailey brings a wealth of knowledge from her experience in higher education, grant work and communication. She will continue to grow the Grand Island GEAR UP PROMISE program for our students and families.”

In 2018, Grand Island Public Schools became the first Nebraska district to be awarded a federal GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) grant. The Grand Island GEAR UP PROMISE (Partners, Resources & Opportunities Matching Individualized Supports & Education) started for all Walnut and Barr Middle School 6th and 7th grade students in the 2018-2019 school year, their parents and their teachers.

The support followed the students into 7th and 8th grade in 2019-2020. The program continues in the 2020-2021 school year for Barr and Walnut 8th graders and will be at Grand Island Senior High for students in the Academy of Freshman Exploration - regardless of which middle school they attended.

Dr. Bailey is currently an associate professor at the Institute for Environmental & Spatial Analysis within the University of North Georgia. She is also a University System of Georgia eCore faculty member.

“I have been an educator for many years; throughout that time, I have always secured additional funding to bring more opportunities to students,” Dr. Bailey said.

“Most recently I have been leading a multi-year community-based environmental education project funded by the EPA where I have been leading a grant team, collaborating with community partners and directing programs in four school systems, at local colleges and in the community to educate all about the importance of healthy forest ecosystems and clean water,” Dr. Bailey said. “Honestly, I just love putting my talents and energy into serving students and teachers to create rewarding experiential learning opportunities.”

Dr. Bailey said she was looking for an opportunity to work on a larger grant project regarding community-based education and student success initiatives. She learned about what GIPS has accomplished so far with GEAR UP and was intrigued with the district and community.

“I am originally from Louisiana, but as a daughter of an Army officer, I have had the privilege of living in many places in the United States and in Germany. Because of that experience, I have developed an appreciation for people, other cultures and languages and for myriad landscapes,” Dr. Bailey said. “I am excited about joining the GIPS family and embracing all that makes Nebraska the great state that it is.”

GEAR UP provides many supports for students, parents and GIPS staff, all with the aim of encouraging more families to understand students’ post-high school options.

“Dr. Bailey’s role with GIPS is very important to help provide a variety of unique opportunities so students can be college, career, community and world ready,” Dr. Grover said.

Officers responded to an injury accident at 18th St and Broadwell Ave yesterday evening. After a vehicle struck a juvenile riding a bike across Broadwell Ave. The juvenile was injured and treated by GIFD and transported to CHI Health St. Francis Hospital.

During the investigation it was revealed the driver, Jonathan Rodriguez, smoked marijuana earlier in the day. Rodriguez also had a suspended driver’s license, a Hall County Warrant and he was also found to be in possession of drug paraphernalia. Rodriguez was arrested for DUI-Great Bodily Injury, Possession of Marijuana, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Driving During Suspension & Hall County Warrant.


(CDHD Release) - Central District Health Department (CDHD) reports 86 lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases as of 2 p.m. today. This includes 2 in Merrick County, 8 in Hamilton County, and 76 in Hall County.

The National Guard tested approximately 150 healthcare workers and symptomatic persons between yesterday and today. CDHD has been informed this afternoon that the National Guard will be able to perform approximately 300 more tests. CDHD is currently working with the National Guard to develop a plan for the additional testing now available.

Guidelines for discontinuing home isolation for people who have symptoms of COVID-19 are:

You have had NO fever for at least 72 hours (3 days) without the use of medicine

Other symptoms have improved (ex: cough, shortness of breath)

At least 7 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.
The decision to stop home isolation should be made in consultation with your healthcare provider and state and local health departments. Local decisions depend on local circumstances. (Guidance from the CDC)


Stay Home, Stay Healthy, Stay Connected.

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Health officials have reported more deaths related to the coronavirus in Nebraska in the last 24 hours, bringing the state's death toll to at least 13. Lincoln on Wednesday reported that city's first death from the virus. Hours earlier, officials in Douglas County reported two deaths in the Omaha area, including a woman in her 70s and another woman in her 90s who was a long-term care resident at the Douglas County Health Center. The long-term care center has seen 15 residents and 10 employees test positive for the disease. Two residents have died. The number of cases statewide had risen to 519 as of midday Wednesday. 

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — The University of Nebraska closed all of its campuses Wednesday as the coronavirus outbreak worsens. NET reports that NU President Ted Carter announced the closures in an email Tuesday, citing public health models predicting a peak of COVID-19 cases sometime in late April. The closure applies to most employees, including all student workers, for at least two weeks. Carter says discussions are being held to determine which employees are necessary to remain campus, including health care workers, public safety officers, and housing and dining employees. Employees are eligible to take up to 160 hours of emergency paid administrative leave. The email says employees should plan to work remotely “until further notice.” 


Grand Island, NE - It all started out eight days ago. Eric Sell, engineering teacher with Grand Island Public Schools, was contacted to potentially help on a project that could help supply face shields locally in Grand Island but also to healthcare workers in the the state of Nebraska. With the use of three 3D printers from Grand Island public schools, Sell is able to produce around 80 to 85 face shields a day and has plans in the works to soon add a fourth printer to help with the production. Some of the face shields that have been made in the last few days will be given to the Central District Health Department and food service workers with Grand Island Public Schools. 

To make an order for face shields visit:

Listen to a full interview with Mr. Stell below. 

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