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Office of Governor Pete Ricketts

Gov. Ricketts Urges Continued Social Distancing, Education Commissioner Blomstedt Gives Update on Schools

For Immediate Release:

4:50PM CT on April 16, 2020


Media Contacts:  

Taylor Gage, 402-471-1970

Justin Pinkerman, 402-471-1967


Media Release:

Gov. Ricketts Urges Continued Social Distancing, Education Commissioner Blomstedt Gives Update on Schools



Gov. Ricketts (podium) and Nebraska Department of Education Commissioner

Matthew Blomstedt (far left) at today’s press conference.


Watch the video by clicking here.

Governor Press Release 4-16 - SPANISH.pdf

LINCOLN – This afternoon, Governor Pete Ricketts reiterated Nebraska’s strategy to combat COVID-19 by practicing strict social distancing through at least the end of April.  He commended Nebraskans for their efforts to stay home and stay healthy, and he urged the state’s residents not to relax their guard.


Nebraska Department of Education Commissioner Matthew Blomstedt joined the Governor at today’s press conference.  He provided an update on schools’ ongoing operations via distance learning.  He also talked about the various ways schools are handling graduation for the Class of 2020.  John Chapo, President/CEO of the Lincoln Children’s Zoo, also participated in the afternoon press briefing.  He announced that the zoo will be offering 75 free, virtual, and interactive tours to school groups.


Gov. Ricketts: 21 Days to Keep Nebraska Healthy

  • We are now on Day 7 of the “21 Days to Stay Home and Stay Healthy” campaign.
  • I want to remind people of our Six Rules to Keep Nebraska Healthy.
    • Stay home.  No non-essential errands and no social gatherings.  Respect the ten-person limit.
    • Socially distance your work.  Work from home or use the six-foot rule as much as possible in the workplace.
    • Shop alone and only shop once a week.  Do not take family with you.
    • Help kids follow social distancing.  Play at home.  No group sports.  And no playgrounds.
    • Help seniors stay at home by shopping for them.  Do not visit long-term care facilities.
    • Exercise daily at home or with an appropriately socially-distanced activity.
  • Data from Google on social mobility in Nebraska shows that we’ve improved in two of the most important categories used to gauge social distancing.
    • Nebraskans are decreasing the amount of time spent in the workplace.
      • We are continuing to urge businesses to use remote work options as much as possible.
      • If you are still in an office or business setting, socially distance your team as much as possible.
    • Nebraskans are increasing the numbers of hours they spend in residential areas.  This indicates that people are heeding the guidance to stay home.


Commissioner Blomstedt: Schools

  • Schools are well aware of the types of challenges Nebraskans are facing right now.
  • I’m meeting with an advisory group of 24 superintendents to talk about:
    • How to keep families safe, informed, and connected to schools.
    • Our ongoing efforts to finish out the 2019-2020 academic year.
    • Our plans for summer school in 2020.
    • Long-term planning for the fall of 2020.
  • We encourage Nebraskans to follow the Governor’s Six Rules and to abide by the State’s Directed Health Measure (DHM) as they think about honoring graduates in the Class of 2020.
  • Most schools can’t have an in-person graduation under the DHM rules and will postpone ceremonies until it’s safe for larger social gatherings to take place.
  • There’s been thoughtful leadership from schools around the state about options for summer schooling.  We’re considered remote learning environments.  We’ve also discussed dividing students into small cohorts, similar to how daycares are operating now.
  • As we engage in long-term planning, we’re looking very closely at data and having conversations about our strategy for the fall.


John Chapo: Lincoln Children’s Zoo

  • The zoo is an educational institution and is looking for ways to continue to serve Nebraskans.
  • The Lincoln zoo’s online Keeper Corner gives kids the opportunity to listen to zookeepers and learn about animals even if they cannot be at the zoo.
  • The Lincoln Children’s Zoo will provide a limited number of virtual, interactive tours to schools across the state of Nebraska.
  • The tours are available for up to 100 students at a time, with everyone participating virtually.
  • For more information, schools should go to and select “Education” and then “Virtual Field Trips” from the drop-down menu.


Full video of today’s press briefing is available by clicking here.