Back to school just around the corner | Education

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Michael Ann Relka gives a goodbye hug and kiss to her daughter Alivia as she sees her off to school at Geil Elementary in August 2021.

Mark your calendars because the first day of school is weeks away for students across the Panhandle.

The Star-Herald has compiled information about when districts are welcoming students and staff back as well as any open houses families are invited to attend.

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Banner County School will begin the fall semester on Thursday, Aug. 18, for students in kindergarten through 12 grades. Preschoolers first day is Wednesday, Aug. 24.

But before students get to using those freshly sharpened pencils and new notebooks, the district is holding an open house on Tuesday, Aug. 16, from 5:30 to 7 p.m.

“Parents can visit classrooms, get sports participation information and enjoy a community BBQ, courtesy of the Banner County School Board,” Superintendent Evelyn Browne said.

The district’s “Return to Learn” plan related to COVID-19 protocols will be similar to last year.

“We are back to 100% face-to-face instruction,” Browne said. “Masks are optional. We continue our disinfecting and cleaning protocols in all classrooms, common areas and school buses.”

Families can access free at-home COVID tests at the school.

Families and the community can also volunteer to support the school this upcoming year with several options from the classroom to the foundation. Anyone interested in volunteering can contact Browne at 308-436-5262 or email [email protected].

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Adalee Duque holds on to her mom nervously while she waits to start her first day of kindergarten during the 2020-21 school year.

The Bulldogs will welcome faculty and students back on Wednesday, Aug. 17. Preschool students will attend their first on Friday, Aug. 19.

Ahead of the first day, the district will hold various open houses, depending on the child’s grade level. The preschool open house for Geil, Lincoln and Northfield is Monday, Aug. 15, from 5-7 p.m. Elementary level open houses are Tuesday, Aug. 16, from 5:30-7 p.m.

Sixth graders will have an orientation on Tuesday, Aug. 16, from 10 a.m. to noon. The junior high open house is that evening from 6:30-7:30 p.m.

Freshman orientation is Tuesday, Aug. 16, from 9-11 a.m. High school students enrolled in dual credit courses will have an orientation on Tuesday, Aug. 16, from 1-3 p.m. at the Western Nebraska Community College auditorium. The high school open house will be on Tuesday, Aug. 16 from 6-7 p.m.

“We definitely love volunteer and parent engagement in our schools,” Jennifer Sibal, community engagement director said. “Classroom teachers share information about class trips and activities where they can use volunteer support and we always encourage families to get involved with their children’s school booster clubs, as well. The open house is a great place to ask and find out more information.”

More information about the district’s COVID-19 protocols is forthcoming. District leaders are working with local health officials and Scottsbluff Public Schools to review the current plan.

The Student & Family Portal on the Gering Public Schools website has been updated and is a resource for families on everything back to school.

Hemingford Public Schools

The Hemingford Bobcats will also welcome staff and students back for the fall on Aug. 18.

Prior to the first day, families are invited to attend the Back to School Night/Open House on Aug. 16, from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Families will be able to meet their child’s teacher, pick up a schedule, drop off supplies and mingle with friends. Families can also enter a drawing for a family activity pass.

The evening will also feature various learning sessions at 5:40 p.m., 6 p.m., 6:20 p.m. and 6:40 p.m. The topics include Remind for all students in the Red Zone, PowerSchool Mobile for grades fourth through 12th in the elementary computer lab, Bobcat Time for seventh through 12 graders in the high school library and Concussion Awareness for seventh through 12 graders in the big gym.

The district and school board are also exploring ways to connect patrons interested in volunteering to the school team.

Hemingford Public Schools’ COVID plan is to operate school as normally as possible, Superintendent Travis Miller said.

“I anticipate that this school year will be in-person and that we will do everything we can to maximize opportunities for our students to be active, engaged participants in their learning, both in the classroom, and in extra-curricular activities,” he said.

The board of education will continue to accept community feedback to inform any adjustments to protocols, in accordance with the federal requirements. The district plans to have a strong continuity of operations ahead of the school year.

“I just want families to know that we are excited to work with them and their students,” Miller said. “We have a lot of quality programs and opportunities in place, and look forward to getting back to the important work of teaching and learning in partnership with students, staff, faculty, families and community members.”

Tigers in grades first through 12th will return to the classroom on Wednesday, Aug. 17.

The district’s traditional open house for the elementary will take place on Tuesday, Aug. 16. Students in seventh through 12th grades will have grade level orientation meetings ahead of the school year. Families will receive specifics on the meetings and can stay up-to-date with on the district’s social media.

“We have a lot of exciting changes coming for the 2022-2023 school year with the focus on providing high quality learning and services to our students and families,” Superintendent Kathy Urbanek said. “Some of these projects will be slightly delayed due to manufacturing and shipping delays, but Mitchell is providing some really great services for students.”

Some of the new services available this coming school year include Opaa! Food Services providing breakfast and lunch programs, the opening of the new Tiger Cub Preschool building and a kindergarten boost classroom, newly renovated science wing and an after school program for elementary students.

The district’s COVID protocols will look similar to last school year. For more information, visit

Scottsbluff Public Schools

Staff and students will begin the 2022-23 school year on Thursday, Aug. 18. However, the school-related activities will begin Monday, Aug. 1 as the district holds the Back to School Bearcat Bash. All preschool through 12th grade students and their families are welcome to attend the bash from 5-7 p.m. at Scottsbluff High School and Frank Park.

“There are activities for kids, performances from SHS cheer, band and drill teams, information booths for parents, a complimentary meal for families and children under 18 receive a ticket for $3 off any purchase from our food truck vendors,” Melissa Price, director of communications, said.

The high school fall activities meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the SHS auditorium.

The district is currently in the process of reviewing its Safe Return to School plan in conjunction with local health officials and Gering Public Schools. The anticipated completion timeframe is early August. If there are changes, those will be communicated with families prior to the first day, Price said.

The elementary modernization projects continue at Roosevelt and Longfellow, which staff look forward to sharing with families. Bear Cub Preschool’s expansion and the addition of two more classrooms have allowed the district to serve more students. Openings are still available and parents are encouraged to contact the preschool at 308-635-6293.

The district also launched a redesigned website, which still has valuable information in a more mobile and accessible format.

We’re always interested in hearing about news in our community. Let us know what’s going on!