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What Should CCSD Students Returning To Class Expect?

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Kristen Kidman

Desks are separated for kids returning to in-person learning.

It’s the announcement many parents around Clark County have waited for nearly a year to hear.

After months of figuring out Zoom classes, various classroom platforms, and online etiquette,  the kids are going back to school.

The youngest kids, pre-K through third grade, are set to return to classrooms Monday.

They’ll be on a hybrid schedule, which means one set of students will go back to school Monday and Tuesday, with online learning the rest of the week, and the second set will go back Thursday and Friday and the other days will be distance learning.

Then on April 6, those students up to and including third grade will return to full-time instruction. Fourth and fifth graders will also come back to full-time in-person classes April 6.

Support comes from

Grades six, nine and 12 go back to school for two days a week starting March 22 and then grades 7, 8, 10 and 11 go back on a hybrid schedule.

CCSD Opening Schools Plan

CCSD Superintendent Jesus Jara told KNPR's State of Nevada that the staggering of the return has partly to do with guidelines outline by the state to maintain social distancing.

Another factor for when students return has to do with students who are transitioning from elementary to middle school and middle school to high school. Plus, the district wanted seniors to get classroom time so they were on track to graduate. 

Overall, the superintendent said the reaction to the plan has been positive.

"There is some anxiety. There is some concern that we all have. I do as well," he said. 

Jara said he appreciated all the teamwork that has gone on between teachers, staff and parents to get students back into the schools.

John Vellardita, executive director of the Clark County Education Association, said teachers have already been back in the classroom this past week getting ready for in-person learning.

"This first wave going back Monday... are a group of educators, primarily, who wanted to go back," he said, "There are a couple of thousand who clearly want to engage directly with their students." 

Vellardita said the union has been able to work out a way for teachers who didn't feel comfortable returning to the classroom to continue to teach a distance learning model.

One of the biggest steps for the return has been prioritizing vaccines for teachers and school staff.

"There was initially a bump in the road in terms of trying to get everybody vaccinated, but I think what is happening is there's an accelerated path for people to have not just one but both vaccinations so that when they are in classroom they've been vaccinated," Vellardita said. 

Jara estimated about 50 percent of teachers and school staff at CCSD have been vaccinated so far. 

During the school board meeting this week, protesters for and against the plan gathered to voice their opinion.

"When you make decisions, you're going to get those who are really excited and you still have some parents that say, 'We're not going fast enough,'" Jara said, "It's tough. I understand everybody is struggling. Everybody is trying to move in the right direction." 

Since not everyone wants the same thing for their children, Jara said there will be an option to have students continue distance learning if they choose.

Vellardita believes the return of in-person learning is a turning point for the whole community.

"I think we're turning a page," he said, "We've been in a dark spot in this country and in this community and in this school district for some time, and I think Monday is a turning point."

With students back in the classroom, Vellardita said it will give teachers a chance to really see how they are doing academically. There are many outstanding questions about how far behind students are and what needs to be done to make up for the time they've lost.

"Educators are solution finders," he said, "They are going to try to figure out how to triage, to the extent that they can, any kind of holes in a kids education moving forward in this limited time that we have left in this school year."

Superintendent Jara is pushing for a system where students are evaluated to get a sense of where they are academically but not hold teachers accountable for that situation.

He said there are a lot of conversations going on about how to deal with the loss of learning due to the pandemic, but so far, there are not any specific details.

For now, the focus is on getting kids back in the classroom and enforcing rules to keep those schools open.

"When we look at going into our campuses, there's going to be systems in place to be able to monitor the social distancing because that's one of the key mitigation strategies. Our Southern Nevada Health District - mask up - six-feet social distancing, and obviously, continue the handwashing - those are the most important mitigation strategies that we have." 

He said principals and staff will be enforcing those rules when schools reopen Monday.

 

Guests

Jesus Jara, Superintendent, Clark County School District; John VellarditaExecutive Director, Clark County Education Association  

 

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KNPR's State of Nevada
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KNPR's State of Nevada