A Message from the Administrator of ESU13
November 4, 2020 | View PDF
In this month’s column, I will provide updates on our recently released 2019-2020 Annual Report, COVID-19 in western Nebraska, Panhandle Beginnings Day Treatment, and a new ESU 13 facility in Sidney.
It is with tremendous pleasure that I invite you to read the 2019-2020 ESU 13 Annual Report. The report synthesizes the robust high quality services and programs provided to the 21 school districts in our service area. To view the report in its entirety, please visit http://www.esu13.org, click on About ESU 13, and scroll down to Annual Reports on the left side of the page.
I would like to reiterate my appreciation and gratitude to all of the personnel working in and with our schools, including COVID-19 Unified Command, for the work they are accomplishing to keep our schools open. Their job has never been easy, and the additional expectations of our educators and local health officials in the midst of the pandemic have only increased the challenges of their work.
More information about the virus and how to mitigate spread in schools is available now than when schools were developing reopening plans this summer. Elements and parts of schools reopening plans are not perfect, and we must be understanding of that. Schools continue to monitor their own individual case counts as well as their community and regional risk dials.
The Unified Command Risk Dial is one piece of guidance that informs our plans on how to keep students and staff safe. School leaders continue to listen, analyze, and rework their plans based on the most recent information and data available to them.
Data made available to ESU 13 (as of Thursday, October 29th) continues to show a lack of evidence of school spread. The cumulative percentage of positive cases for the four school districts, nearest the three ESU 13 offices (Chadron, Sidney, and Scottsbluff/Gering) and representing our north, central, and southern portions of our service area show less than a 1.3 percent of positive cases amongst students and staff since schools reopened in August. Panhandle Unified Command has made it clear that at the current time and in consideration of the lack of evidence showing school spread of the virus, the safest place for kids is in schools that are following all increased precautions, including the requirement of students wearing masks when 6-foot social distancing is not possible.
Panhandle Beginnings Day Treatment
On Monday, October 19th, Panhandle Beginnings Day Treatment, located at the Carpenter Center in Terrytown, welcomed their first students. This long awaited program has been in the works for several years, and will undoubtedly fill a much-needed gap in youth mental health services in western Nebraska. A ribbon cutting and open house is scheduled for Wednesday, December 9th.
Sidney Construction Project
Construction of a new satellite ESU 13 facility in Sidney is nearing completion. The building is connected to the Western Nebraska Community College (WNCC) Sidney Campus, and will officially open on January 4, 2021. The approximate 10,500 square foot complex will provide a more functional, welcoming office and conference room facility in Sidney. In addition, included in the complex is a Valley Alternative Learning Transitional School (VALTS) Southern Tier classroom that will deliver courses via distance learning from our Scottsbluff VALTS location. ESU 13 is grateful to once again partner with WNCC, and continue our efforts to support the highest level of PK-16 educational system in western Nebraska.