Updated March 9, 2022 - 6:45 am
The Clark County School District is loosening some COVID-19 restrictions beginning Wednesday, including no longer requiring face masks on school buses and eliminating mandatory weekly COVID-19 testing.
The district released revised guidance to employees after the Southern Nevada Health District signed off on the changes, which come as COVID-19 cases have dropped sharply in recent weeks.
“With COVID-19 numbers declining, CCSD is lifting restrictions while still maintaining minimal levels of mitigating strategies and returning to near-normal circumstances,” Superintendent Jesus Jara said in a statement Tuesday. “Thus enabling all teachers and staff to focus on our primary goal of educating students while also addressing students’ social and emotional needs.”
The district will continue to work with the Southern Nevada Health District to “monitor and respond accordingly to any new developments as we learn to live with COVID-19,” he said.
Last month, Gov. Steve Sisolak lifted the state’s mask mandate, but said school districts could set their own policies. The Clark County School District announced the same day it would no longer require masks indoors at schools or its other facilities.
In an announcement to staff — which the district released to the Review-Journal in response to an inquiry — it says it will implement its revised “Plan for Path Forward Program of Distance Education and Plan for the Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services.”
It includes mitigation strategies for low, medium and high levels of COVID-19 transmission, noting Clark County is currently in low transmission status.
Under the low transmission guidance, employees aren’t required to participate in mandatory COVID-19 testing.
Unvaccinated employees, or those who hadn’t uploaded a completed vaccination card into an online system, were previously required this school year to be tested weekly at district-run sites.
Also under the new guidance, identified students — including student athletes — won’t have to undergo weekly COVID-19 testing anymore either.
Students and employees may still “participate voluntarily” in COVID-19 testing at designated locations, according to the district’s memo to staff.
Other changes include no longer requiring face masks on school buses. And having designated groups of students — known as cohorts — is no longer required for recess or other outdoor activities.
Some mitigation measures aren’t changing, though.
For example, employees still must use the emocha Mobile Health daily symptom monitoring tool before showing up to work. And schools will continue to have separate “sick” and “well” rooms.
The updated guidance document says the school district will still conduct contact tracing for positive cases “to identify cluster or outbreak activities at CCSD locations,” and require seating charts for classrooms and school mealtimes.
The Southern Nevada Health District said in a Tuesday statement that it “continues to support and provide COVID-19 guidance to the Clark County School District as it continues to ensure the health and safety of its students, staff, and faculty.”
The Clark County Education Association — which represents more than 18,000 licensed professionals in the district — said Tuesday it believes it’s the right time to move to mitigation strategies approved by the health district for low levels of transmission.
“CCEA believes these levels will continue to be monitored and strategies updated accordingly,” the teachers union said.
Jeff Horn, executive director of the Clark County Association of School Administrators & Professional Technical Employees, said Tuesday that the union is in agreement with the new protocols and “will continue to support District decisions that protect the health and safety of our students and staff.”
“So many of us are anxious to return to life after COVID and CCASAPE sees this as a positive step towards that goal,” he said.
Contact Julie Wootton-Greener at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2921. Follow @julieswootton on Twitter.