return to school plan

Dear Elmwood-Murdock Families,

The start of the 2021-2022 school year is just around the corner.  This letter is to inform you of the district’s approach to Covid-19 related protocols at Elmwood-Murdock Public Schools as we start a new school year. With the increase in vaccinations, a better understanding of the Coronavirus and a decrease in active cases in the state of Nebraska and in our school district, E-M will maintain the approach to social distancing and other protocols when possible, however, the use of masks will not be required. Those wishing to wear a mask or face covering will be allowed to do so at all times. 

As we progress through the next school year, E-M will continue to maintain our relationship and stay in constant contact with the Sarpy/Cass Health Department, as well as review recommendations from the CDC and the State of Nebraska. As related to Covid-19, in the event of required, or necessary updates, or changes, the district will communicate those actions as quickly as possible to our families.   

In formulating our approach for the next school year, E-M intends to follow all recommended health guidelines and has moved to the aspect that the maintenance of Covid-19 is the personal responsibility of our families and staff. With that said, although not required, we would encourage our families to consider being vaccinated and if at any time, your individual students are experiencing symptoms related to Covid-19, please notify the district and follow all protocols outlined by the local health department and CDC.  

The chart below outlines Elmwood-Murdock Public Schools approach to Covid-19 for the 2021-2022 school year.  Please keep in mind that based on recommendations from the CDC and SCHD,  these protocols may change at any time. The district's Continuity of  Learning  Plan can be located on the school website at 

If you have any questions, concerns or would like to provide feedback in regards to this plan, please email Ryan Knippelmeyer at

Disclaimer: The Elmwood-Murdock Board of Education understands that there may be a need to adjust this Return to School Plan based on current health conditions and guidance from the Sarpy/Cass Health Department, Nebraska Department of Education, and/or Governor, and gives the Superintendent the authority to make these adjustments as necessary.


Attendance/ Capacity 

Participation in academic experiences and activities/athletics will be at full capacity.

Working Collaboratively with Sarpy/Cass Health Department

The school district will continue to work closely with the Sarpy/Cass Health Department, Nebraska Department of Education, and the NSAA when implementing our Return to School Plan.  Adjustments to this plan will be made based on the current health conditions in our district and through collaboration with the health department.  

For example, if the district moves from the “Green” protocol to the “Yellow” or “Orange” protocol and possibly implement additional restrictions, those decisions will be made collaboratively with the Sarpy/Cass Health Department and state of Nebraska.  

Any changes to this plan will be communicated with families through email and/or phone calls through our school messaging system.

Masking / Face Coverings 

Masking is not required for outside activities, however, students and staff wishing to engage in masking will be allowed to do so.

For academic experiences and activities scheduled inside the building, masking is recommended by the CDC, but not required by our school district.

Keep in mind, the effective use of a mask or face covering entails the covering of the nose and mouth by the wearer.  

Screening for 

Covid - 19 and other Illnesses

Students and/or parents should check for Covid-19 related symptoms and other illnesses at home, prior to arrival at school. 

Parents should follow all CDC guidelines and keep students at home if any of the following symptoms are experienced: * Fever or chills * Cough * Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing * Fatigue * Muscle or body aches * Headache * New loss of taste or smell * Sore throat * Congestion or runny nose* Nausea or vomiting * Diarrhea

If at school, students exhibiting symptoms related to Covid - 19, or other significant illness, will be screened by health/office personnel and may be sent home. 

Exposure and Covid Diagnosis

Students and Staff need to stay home when sick.

Individuals diagnosed with, or have been exposed to, Covid-19 should contact the school and follow all protocols outlined for recovery by the health department and CDC.

Following current CDC and health department guidelines, contracting , or exposure to Covid-19 could include contact tracing, isolation and possible quarantine.  


Covid-19 vaccinations are not required for students and/or staff to attend school.  However, keep in mind that individuals can assist our school in mitigating Covid-19 outbreaks by getting vaccinated.  

As we have learned, an outbreak that affects an entire classroom,  grade level, or our teaching staff, may affect the district’s ability to continue school in our current protocol.

Remote Learning / School Absence

Full-time remote learning will not be an option for the 2021-2022 school year. 

Individual remote learning possibilities will be considered due to changes in the pandemic plan, with the district shifting from green to yellow, orange or red. Considerations may include, but are not limited to; an increase in confirmed positive Covid-19 cases, changes to the state’s directed health measure, along with accommodations for students on 504 and IEP plans that have an exposure to, or have tested positive for Covid-19.

Elmwood-Murdock Public Schools believes that the maintenance of Covid-19 is the personal responsibility of our families and staff.  Covid-19 cases will be treated like the “flu”, or any other communicable disease.  Families should connect with both their building office and classroom teacher in the event of any illness, or missed school and follow the guidance provided by your family doctor and the local health department.



Elmwood-Murdock Public Schools acknowledges that some students experienced a loss of learning due to the pandemic and its effect on the academic environment. The district recognizes that students were affected by remote learning in the spring of 2020, as well as absences related to Covid - 19.  Our school district will continue to utilize all academic practices in place prior to the pandemic, as well as additional instructional strategies to support student learning. 

 Strategies utilized may include, but are not limited to: 

  • Ensuring Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) academic, behavioral, and social emotional processes and guidelines are provided to all students

  • Universal Screener - Northwest Evaluation Association Measures of Academic Performance (MAP)

  • Universal Screener (K-6) - Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Learning Skills (DIBELS)

  • Nebraska Student Centered Assessment System (NSCAS) for grades 3rd-8th

  • Formative and summative classroom assessments

  • Benchmarking of individual student skill levels

  • Implementation and maintenance of newly identified 504 and IEPs as related to Covid - 19.  

Social Distancing

All students and staff should maintain suggested social distancing when possible. 

Good Hygiene

Regular use of hand sanitizer and soap and water, as well as promoting respiratory etiquette (coughing, sneezing into sleeves, etc). 

The district will provide opportunities and encourage good hygiene, etiquette and work to reduce the spread of illness. 

To assist the district, parents should encourage students to maintain good hygiene at all times. 

Food / Water

Students should not share food and/or water. 

Individual water bottles and prepackaged food should be utilized by students and staff.  Water bottle filling stations are available to students at both buildings.  No mouth use of water fountains by students and staff.


Students engaged in all academic experiences and activities may be cohorted with an individual group if needed.

This action could include academic experiences, lunchtime and all activities. 


To reduce the spread of Covid - 19 and other viruses, the district will engage in continued, increased cleaning practices. 


Bussing / Transportation

Busses will be cleaned daily.  

Students will be assigned seats. 

Masking is not required, however, students and staff wishing to wear a mask on the bus and/or van may do so.


Cafeteria / Lunch

All cafeteria procedures will resume as normal. 

Wash / Sanitize hands before entering the cafeteria line.  

Cleaning between lunch groups.  

All students will return to eating in the cafeteria space.  Designated seats will be marked at the JH/SH.

If needed, students will eat lunch with a cohort and social distancing will be implemented to the greatest extent possible..   

Extra Curricular Activities

The district will follow all guidelines provided by the NSAA and NDE.


All school visitors need to check in the office before moving throughout the building.

Playground and Outdoor Activities

Normal use of playground equipment will be allowed.  

Outdoor activities will be allowed as normal.

Use of school by Outside Groups

While in the current protocol, the school may be used by outside groups as normal and must follow the district's facility use agreement.

Ventilation and Facility Care

GPS Bipolar technology was installed on over 60 air handler units in both the elementary and high school school buildings in August 2020. 

Regular filter changing will continue to take place to assist in providing a clean learning environment for all students and staff.

The district will continue to look at other opportunities to improve the air flow and ventilation in the school facility.


Attendance at School Activities

Attendance at school activities will be at full capacity.  

Masks and/or face coverings for indoor activities are recommended by the CDC, but not required. Those in attendance wishing to wear a mask or face covering may do so. 

We encourage that spectators sit in family groups to the greatest extent possible. 

Social Emotional Approach

In regards to social-emotional mental health and related needs, Elmwood-Murdock Public Schools will continue to provide necessary guidance to parents and students to assist in possible trauma resulting from the pandemic or any other emergencies. Please contact the building counselor for further information. 



Student concerns of nutritional needs will be addressed on an individual student basis.  Please contact the building principal for further information.

Arrival / Dismissal from School

Facilities will open at 7:45 a.m. Early arrivals will report outside to designated areas.  Parents/Guardians are allowed in the school and need to check in at the office upon arrival.

CDC Guidelines for Schools -

If you would like to provide feedback or have questions or concerns about this plan, please contact Ryan Knippelmeyer at