Melissa Wheeler, Farm Bureau

The North Bend Eagle


COVID brought changes but Benders strong

by Mary Le Arneal
Published 3/17/21

Hard to believe, but it has been a year since the pandemic was declared, closing our world as we knew it, including North Bend.

On March 18, 2020, the North Bend Eagle published an article under the heading “COVID-19 making changes in life in North Bend area.” Covered was the Zelazny family who had been at the event where the first COVID case in Nebraska had been, the closing of the school and how the Senior Center was affected.

Aarows upOn Monday [March 15, 2021], Cierra Kluthe helped take up the one-way traffic signs at the high school. Though some restrictions have relaxed, students and staff will continue to mask when not able to socially distance.

Jerry, Kathy and Doug Zelazny have remained healthy this past year. They have also remained pretty much isolated. With a daughter and daughter-in-law working in hospitals in Omaha, they did not gather for Easter nor Christmas. They have gone to church, always wearing a mask. Doug did not go back to work at North Bend Central, but keeps busy in the yard. Jerry has his garage, he always has something to do in. And Kathy keeps busy.

“It’s sad that we don’t get together with family,” Kathy said. We go to church, get our grocery shopping done. Things like that. We just do what needs to be done.”

NBC Open

As North Bend Central superintendent Dan Endorf predicted in the 2020 article, it was more than a two-week endeavor. NBC closed for the rest of the year. Students used their electronic devices to finish their schoolwork for the term.

The investments in technology for 1:1 computers that NBC had previously made paid off. Grading and assessments were put on hold. By the end of March it was announced that the “two-week” suspension of school would be indefinite. On April 1, Governor Pete Ricketts directed schools to operate without students in their building until May 31.Parades were held as teachers waved to students. Student athletes lamented over the loss of the track season. Grading was reevaluated. The class of 2020 graduates were honored in the May 13 issue of the North Bend Eagle, the usual time. But prom and graduation weren’t held until July. The FFA held a recognition banquet on a page in the Eagle and a parade was held at the end of the year to recognize the seniors and teachers.

School reopened August 18 with COVID-dictated changes. Classrooms were larger to allow for social distancing, the walking in the hallway was in one direction, lockers were not used, masks were encouraged except for when seated (distantly) in classrooms, some classes were moved to larger rooms. Principal Brenda Petersen said in the Aug. 19 article their goal was to keep the students in school.

“I would like to commend our students on being very adaptable,” teacher Fred Ladehoff said. “With all of the changes that we put in to start the school year, they may have griped or groaned about a few things, but in the end they accepted them and with three quarters in the books have had an incredibly successful year. I also want to commend the teachers, administrators, and custodians. This has been a team effort, and although not forgetting some challenges back in September when we went to Orange (on Risk Dial), we have so far been able to get our students to put forth their best efforts each day, use their brain, and hopefully get a little smarter.”

In the elementary school, each two classroom grade was divided in three sections to allow for social distancing. Masks became the accessory of the year.

Sports were held with restricted spectators, which lightened up as the year went on. Students remain in school on the first year anniversary of the pandemic. It has changed their lives, as it has all of ours. What will their “normal” be as they grow up?

“Our students did a wonderful job of adapting to the many changes we put in place this year at the elementary,” principal Tessie Beaver said. “Teaming was one of the big changes for students. Students have adjusted to working with both teachers and the paraprofessional at their grade level multiple times each day as the adults rotate between the teams to delivery instruction and support student work. The smaller teams create a family like atmosphere!”

Senior Center Open

The North Bend Area Senior Center remained open this past year. Because the food is cooked at the center by manager Sherry Raymond, it was able to continue to serve seniors. But the number dropped down. On Friday’s a year ago, there used to be 12 - 15 people eating at the center, that number dropped to five. On Tuesdays there used to be 20 or more there to eat, now that number has come back up to 10. The home-delivered meals the center offers have risen from five to 14.

“A lot of people who wouldn’t come in (and had been coming in) now wanted meals delivered,” Raymond said. “Some said when they get vaccine they will come back. They haven’t. They are still scared. Their families won’t let them come back.”

There are four, two men and two women, who have been coming in regardless. They keep social distanced and have now been vaccinated.

Is this the new norm for us? What will the second anniversary of the pandemic declaration look like?


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