Lincoln Public Schools will continuously review and update the 2021-22 LPS Safe Return to School Plan throughout the school year as the risk of COVID-19 spread in our community changes. This work will be ongoing as new research emerges and more guidance is provided to the school district from the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department (LLCHD), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, the Nebraska Department of Education (NDE) and the U.S. Department of Education.

Any changes to our plan and protocols will be communicated ahead of time through this website, email and social media.

Please note: Lincoln Public Schools will adjust protocols (including face covering requirements) as necessary to address changing conditions. During the 2021–2022 school year, protocols and requirements may change for a specific school building, program, classroom or setting based on number of positive cases, contact tracing, community test positivity rate, community conditions and risk of spread.

The LPS 2021–22 Safe Return Plan was last revised September 20, 2021, and last reviewed September 20, 2021.

The school district is developing/modifying its plans based on social, economic, and practical considerations that include the balancing of important educational and public health considerations, within the confines of its budgetary limitations, to allocate resources and staff in a way that mitigates risk and seeks to achieve important educational goals.



Click here to download the latest PDF of 2021-22 LPS Safe Return to School Plan.

We want to hear from you...

Please provide any feedback, suggestions or comments on the 2021-22 LPS Safe Return to School

We will continue to review and update our 2021-22 LPS Safe Return to School Plan to align with community conditions and the latest information. These protocols went into effect on August 9, 2021.


To Prevent Spread

Staff, students and visitors entering any LPS facility are expected to conduct a self-screening for COVID-19 symptoms every day prior to arriving.

Every day ask yourself or your student the following screening questions PRIOR to entering an LPS building:

Do you have one of the following?

  • Fever of over 100.4
  • Onset of shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • New onset of dry cough
  • New onset of loss of taste or smell

Do you have two or more of the following?

(lasting more than 24 hours without a known cause)

  • Chills longer than two hours
  • Congestion and/or runny nose
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain

Have you had contact with COVID-19?

  • Contact longer than a cumulative 15 minutes within 6 feet without a face covering, or residing with someone who is positive.

If you answered YES to ANY of the above questions, do NOT go into an LPS building. Instead:

  • Contact your doctor or seek medical care.
  • Get tested for COVID-19.
  • Self-isolate. Do not go to an LPS building until you have a negative COVID-19 test result or have been cleared by a medical professional.

Get tested for COVID-19

  • Bryan Health
  • CHI 
  • Several pharmacies including CVS, HyVee and Walgreens along with other health care provider offices and urgent care clinics also offer testing. If a person is uninsured or underinsured, they can call the COVID-19 hotline at 402-441-8006 and the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department will connect them to testing resources.

The Lincoln Public Schools plan for face coverings is based on current community conditions and recommendations from the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department. Based on current Directed Health Measure by the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department announced on August 24, the latest face coverings protocols go into effect on Wednesday, August 25, 2021.

  • Face coverings will be REQUIRED for ALL students in grades PreK-12, LPS staff, visitors, volunteers and families inside all LPS buildings during the school day, and before and after school.
  • Students may remove their face coverings during strenuous activities and exercise.
  • Face coverings will also be REQUIRED on all buses. Eating will no longer be allowed on buses.
  • Face coverings are REQUIRED for all individuals attending athletic practices and events held inside except for athletes during strenuous physical exertion.
  • Face coverings are STRONGLY RECOMMENDED for events held outdoors (including sporting events) when in a crowd and physical distance cannot be maintained.

LPS will provide face coverings to students and staff who need them.

When wearing a face covering:

  • Face coverings must be multiple layers of tightly woven, breathable fabric that blocks light when held up to a bright light source.
  • Face coverings with exhalation valves or vents will not be allowed.
  • Per our current school dress code, bandanas are not allowed.
  • Plastic face shields are not a suitable replacement for multilayer cloth face coverings.
  • LPS will have face coverings available for staff and students who do not provide their own.
  • Families are allowed to provide their own multilayer cloth face coverings. Please note: Gaiters are single layer and can only be used if doubled up and cover both the nose and the mouth.
  • Students and families are responsible for laundering and wearing their face coverings each day.
  • LPS will treat face coverings as a required part of dress code where applicable and discipline for not following dress code is outlined in our Important Information Handbook.

Face Covering Exemption Process

K-12 Students

Students who were granted a face covering exemption last school year will be exempt from any requirement for the 21-22 school year. The criteria for face covering exemptions are below.

Medical issues that are documented in the student’s emergency health plan, OR Individual Health Plan (IHP):

  1. Students who require oral suctioning
  2. Students on a ventilator
  3. Students who have a trach
  4. Students who frequently secrete bodily fluids from the eyes, nose, and/or mouth.

Significant behavioral needs that are documented in the student’s Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) or 504:

  1. Students for whom face coverings may cause on-going significant distress that cannot not be remedied through teaching, problem solving, or other accommodations.
  2. Students for whom significant distress may disrupt education, or whose distress may disrupt the education of others.
  3. Students with a history of issues concerning restrictive clothing, close spaces, or high anxiety, or with other data supporting significant student distress.

If your child does not have an exemption and you believe they meet the criteria outlined above, please fill out this form.

Preschool Students

Preschoolers who were determined to be exempt from the face covering requirement in the 2020-21 school year, remain exempt and no further action is needed. The criteria for face covering exemptions are below.

  • Children with documented (in the child’s school records or from information obtained from the family from the child’s physician or medical provider) medical conditions, which may include: Asthma, lung disease, tracheostomy, ventilator or children for who are oxygen dependent or require oxygen levels to be checked throughout the school day.
  • Children with other conditions, which may include:
    • Sensory impairments and issues for which the face covering may cause on-going significant distress that cannot be remedied through teaching, practice and support and may disrupt. This distress may disrupt the child’s participation in preschool or the participation of others;
    • Children who secrete bodily fluids from their eyes, nose, and/or mouth;
    • Autism; or
    • Children who are unable to physically remove the face covering or are not able to communicate a need to remove the face covering because the face covering presents a choking or strangulation hazard.

If you would like to request consideration for a face covering exemption for your preschooler or have questions, please contact the Early Childhood Office at 402-436-1995.

Activity/Athletics Attendees

If you wish to attend LPS events and be exempt from wearing required face coverings, please submit that request online to Student Activities and Athletics under the Contact Us, or in writing to “LPSDO” at 5905 ‘O’ Street, Lincoln, NE 68510.

Students, staff and visitors will be encouraged to frequently wash their hands for at least 20 seconds. Hand sanitizer will be available in classrooms and multiple locations throughout the building when hand washing isn’t easily accessible.

Custodial staff will clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces in common areas and classrooms as needed and at the end of the day.

We will continue to keep everyone as physically distanced from others by maintaining three to six feet whenever possible. Any distance makes a difference and we will space out individuals as far as we can, where and when we can. Desks will be placed as far apart as possible.

Our Operations Department will continue with fresh air practices in alignment with recommendations from ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers) and the CDC (Center for Disease Control).

Custodial staff will clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces in common areas and classrooms as needed and at the end of the day.

  • Drinking fountains will be available.
  • Classroom sinks will be available.
  • Water bottle fill stations will be accessible where available.
  • K-12 students may bring bottles full of water from home.
  • Paper disposable cups will be provided by schools for students who do not have water bottles.


  • Hand sanitizer will be provided for students as they enter the cafeteria.
  • Meals will be served in individual containers.
  • Students will be assigned to a table.
  • Plexiglass dividers will be used.


  • Hand sanitizer will be provided for students as they enter the cafeteria.
  • Meals will be served based on past practice.
  • Any utensils for self-service will be replaced  every one-half hour.
  • Plexiglass dividers will be used for middle and high school.

Update: All visitors (vaccinated or unvaccinated) will not be able to sit in the cafeteria or eat lunch with students. 

All guests must perform the self-screening for symptoms prior to entering a building and adhere to the face covering protocols. At this time, all volunteers, visitors and families must wear face coverings inside LPS buildings at all times. No visitors will be allowed in the cafeteria.

LPS facilities are available for outside use through the online Archibus reservation system. All facility terms and conditions apply, including the applicant's responsibility to comply with any COVID-19 protocols from governing organizations, orders and/or Directed Health Measures.

The COVID-19 vaccine is not required, but strongly recommended.

Under Title 173 of the Nebraska Administrative Code, each school or school district in Nebraska is required to keep the immunization history of the students enrolled on file. If your child has received the COVID-19 vaccine, we ask that you please provide us a copy of the information by emailing a copy of the vaccination card to your school nurse. If your child has not received the COVID-19 vaccine, there is nothing you need to do.

The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department provides the following information about the COVID-19 vaccine:

Everyone 12 years old and up is eligible to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Sign up and schedule an appointment online at For registration and scheduling assistance call 402-441-8006.

Learn more on the LLCHD website.

School buildings will be considered for vaccination clinics based on recommendations from the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department. Information about vaccination clinics held at school will be shared with families ahead of time via email.

LPS Buses

Face coverings are REQUIRED at all times for students and staff on buses. Hand sanitizer and cleaner will be provided for each bus. Transportation staff will clean high touch surfaces on the bus at the end of each day.

StarTran Buses

From the City of Lincoln:
“The U.S. Department of Transportation face covering mandate is in effect until September 13, 2021. All operators and riders are required to wear a face covering on StarTran buses under federal law.”

Learn more on the StarTran website.

Infection Response

A close contact is someone who has been within 6 feet of the positive case for a cumulative 15 minutes or more and one or both persons were not wearing a face covering. A positive COVID-19 case begins 48 hours prior to onset of symptoms, or test date if the positive case is asymptomatic.

Please see this chart showing school examples of exclusion from school.

Quarantine and Exclusion requirements are established in consultation and at the direction of the Lincoln Lancaster Health Department.

Vaccinated individuals identified as a close contact WITHOUT symptoms will need to self-monitor for symptoms and are not required to quarantine as long as they remain symptom free.

Unvaccinated individuals identified as close contacts WITHOUT symptoms can return to work or school:

  • After day 10 without testing
  • After day 7 after receiving a negative test result (test must occur on day 5 or later)

All close contacts WITH symptoms still need to quarantine for the full 14 days, even with a negative test result.

The Remote Learning Program will not be an option for quarantined students or students with an extended absence. Extended absences from in-person school will be handled as they were prior to the pandemic. It is the responsibility of the student to contact their teachers and make up work which has been missed because of any absence. The school staff will support the student’s initiative to make up work missed.

  • The community can view positive case numbers across Lincoln Public Schools with the dashboard provided online.
  • Students and staff identified as a high-risk close contact with a positive COVID-19 case that needs to self-monitor or self-quarantine will be contacted directly.
  • Messages will be sent to staff and families if there is a student, staff, volunteer or visitor that has been in an LPS building anytime 48 hours prior to the time of COVID-19 symptoms being exhibited or the positive COVID-19 test was taken.


Homebound Services 

If a student has a medical need that prevents them from attending school in person, the parent should contact the special education administrator at their child’s school to request more information about Homebound Services.


If a parent wants special COVID accommodations to be implemented, the parent should contact the school’s special education administrator to set up a meeting to discuss options.



Prekindergarten Classrooms

Prekindergarten classrooms will follow most pre-pandemic protocols. During the 2021-2022 school year, protocols may change for a specific school building, program, classroom or settings based on cases, contact tracing, community conditions and risk of spread.

All Home Visits

When there is a confirmed positive COVID-19 case in a home, LPS staff are not permitted to return to the home until:

  • 24 days from the last confirmed positive case;
  • Household members are fever-free for at least 24-hours; and
  • The family passes the LPS self-screen.

Early Intervention Services

Parental preference to continue virtual service delivery due to ease and convenience is no longer allowable due to federal requirements to provide Early Intervention Services within natural environments. A family can only choose to utilize virtual service delivery during the COVID-19 Pandemic Emergency Status if the child’s fragile/serious medical condition requires additional health protections. Because the  COVID-19 Public Health Emergency in Nebraska has ended, Early Intervention Services must return to in-person service provision for all children/families. Please contact the Early Childhood Office at 402-436-1995 with additional questions.

Remote Learning

Learn more about the Remote Learning Program here.

Note: The Remote Learning Program will not be an option for quarantined students or students with an extended absence. Extended absences from in-person school will be handled as they were prior to the pandemic. It is the responsibility of the student to contact their teachers and make up work which has been missed because of any absence. The school staff will support the student’s initiative to make up work missed.

We will communicate with Remote Learning Program families directly about meal needs and distribution.

Coronavirus Dashboard (Updated Daily)

Please note: On August 8, the Coronavirus Dashboard will be cleared out to only report for the 2021-22 school year.

LPS and the City of Lincoln — Working Together

Lincoln Public Schools staff continues to work collaboratively with the City of Lincoln and the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department (LLCHD) to develop plans for school operations. You can learn more about the City of Lincoln’s response to COVID-19 by visiting: