Nevada county ditches plans for classroom teaching for now
ELKO, Nev. (AP) — The Elko County School Board in Nevada has decided to follow the lead of the state’s largest school district in Las Vegas and begin the new school year with only distance learning to help guard against the spread of the coronavirus.
The board voted unanimously to push back the beginning of the school year until Sept. 8
School resumes next week in Las Vegas on a strictly remote basis until the Clark County School Board determines COVID-19 trends have improved enough to satisfy multiple criteria, including a downward trajectory of documented cases over a 14-day period.
A hybrid model that combines classroom instruction with remote learning got off to a rocky start this week in Washoe County when Monday’s scheduled reopening was postponed because dense smoke from California wildfires produced unhealthy air quality in Reno and Sparks.
School officials canceled all in-person and remote classes again Thursday because of the smoke.
The Elko County district originally planned to start school Aug. 31, with at least some in-person instruction in classrooms. But the panel voted 4-2 Tuesday night to change course, with only distance learning for at least the first nine weeks of classes with plans to re-evaluate the situation at the end of the first quarter, according to the Elko Daily Free Press.
Elko School Board President Teresa Dastrup said the resumption of school was delayed partly to give teachers an additional week of professional development and lesson preparation.
Board members Ira Wines and Candace Wines opposed the move to strictly distance learning.
“Kids get their best education when they’re in front of a teacher,” Ira Wines said.
“I think nine weeks is too long before we re-evaluate,” added Candace Wines.
Washoe County’s new school year got underway Tuesday and Wednesday under the hybrid model that allows all elementary students to be taught in classrooms with middle and high school students alternating between remote and in-person learning.
All children have the option of doing strictly distance learning. School Superintendent Kristen McNeill said that so far, about one-third of the district’s parents are keeping their children at home.
The Carson City School District began the new school year this week with a similar hybrid policy.