All the Nebraska schools closed because of the recent flooding have reopened, state officials said Thursday, but not before disrupting the lives of thousands of students at almost 200 schools.

The North Bend Central Public Schools, which returned to school Wednesday, was the last school district to resume classes, according to the Nebraska Department of Education.

The Logan View Public Schools, the Douglas County West Community Schools and the Boyd County Schools all returned to school Monday.

“Did all students return? I doubt it,” department spokesman David Jespersen said. “But the school is open, and there are classes.”

Trying to understand how the recent flooding — and, in western Nebraska, the recent blizzard — affected Nebraska schools, the department sent out a survey to the 244 public school districts in the state.

Only 75 percent of the districts have responded so far. Of the districts that responded, 65 reported closing one or more schools because of floodwaters or the blizzard.

The closures affected 34,684 students in 196 schools, according to the department.

Add that missed classroom time to earlier snow days, and the time starts to add up.

“I think everybody can now evaluate where they’re at and what’s next,” Jespersen said.

The state requires 1,032 hours of instructional time for students in elementary school through eighth grade and 1,080 hours for high school students.

Jespersen said there is a waiver available if superintendents don’t think that their districts will hit the required hours.

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The waiver would first have to be approved by a district’s school board before going to Nebraska Commissioner of Education Matt Blomstedt. Blomstedt would make a recommendation to the State Board of Education, which would then vote on the request.

It’s rare, Jespersen said, for any district to ask for a waiver. And no one at the department can recall a time when multiple districts might have needed to put in such a request, he said.

Despite missed class time, it’s still academic test season for students across the state.

Nebraska juniors will take the ACT on April 2, although there’s an option to make up the test on April 24.

State academic testing, which is done on computers, started March 18 and goes until May 3.

Jespersen said the state is keeping the test schedule in place but will work with districts if there are problems with Wi-Fi or if test supplies didn’t get to districts because of the flooding.

Douglas County West Community Schools Superintendent Melissa Poloncic said that attendance on Monday was good and that many students were happy to be back.

Students who are without a permanent home or are living with others because of the flooding will automatically be eligible for free meals for the remainder of the school year, Poloncic tweeted Thursday.

The floodwaters have disrupted the lives of so many families, she said, that it makes the baseball team’s victory on Monday something to celebrate: “Little things you take for granted we sure are glad to get back to.”

Floods devastate Nebraska, Iowa in March 2019

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After drenching rains Tuesday and heavy snow on Wednesday, Gibbon’s low spots became apparent, first as water filled streets to the curb, and later on Thursday and Friday as the water spilled into lawns and driveways before lapping at foundations. “I’ve never seen so much water, or the force and damage it can do in a short time,” firefighter Jamey Rome said.

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Thirty buildings, including the 55th Wing headquarters and the two major aircraft maintenance facilities, had been flooded with up to 8 feet of water, and 30 more structures damaged. About 3,000 feet of the base’s 11,700-foot runway was submerged. No one, though, had been injured.

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An official with the state office of the Farm Services Agency said Monday that because of earlier livestock losses from below-zero temperatures and wet animals, the agency has asked the federal government to add another 30 days to the period in which livestock deaths can be covered by federal aid.

Emily covers K-12 education, including Omaha Public Schools. Previously, Emily covered local government and the Nebraska Legislature for The World-Herald. Follow her on Twitter @emily_nitcher. Phone: 402-444-1192.

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