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Nevada colleges planning for return to classroom by fall

Updated May 4, 2020 - 4:28 pm

Nevada’s colleges and universities plan to resume in-person classes as early as July, the Nevada System of Higher Education announced Monday.

A letter from Chancellor Thom Reilly said the institution has begun planning for in-person classes to resume in the fall, with limited offerings possible this summer.

NSHE schools have been closed for in-classroom instruction since mid-March because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

In a news release, Reilly said that the system had several options for resuming classes safely, including a blended model of remote and in-person classes.

“For instance, a science class might be designed to include online lectures and in-person lab sessions that follow established social distancing measures,” Reilly’s letter said. “Further safety measures could include reducing class sizes, using masks and increased testing availability.”

NSHE awaits guidance from the Mountain West Conference and the NCAA on athletics, according to the statement, and is evaluating options for residential housing and dining.

In an interview, Reilly said NSHE may consider moving to single-occupancy rooms, or asking students who choose to room together to sign a waiver. All residents may be asked to be tested for COVID-19 and report any symptoms, he said.

The students most interested in resuming classes are career and technical education students who had to take incomplete grades in their lab-dependent courses, Reilly said, adding that he hopes they can be among the first to get back to their classes.

“Hopefully with social distancing we will get them the lab time they need to graduate so we can get them into the workforce,” he said. “We’ll need them.”

He also expects online classes to remain an option for faculty who have pre-existing medical conditions or international students who may not be able to return to campus due to travel restrictions.

NSHE will ultimately follow directions set by Gov. Steve Sisolak and health and education authorities, Reilly said, with no firm date set for a final decision on when campuses will reopen.

“We’ve asked faculty to be prepared both ways,” he said.

NSHE’s announcement follows a similar one from the University of Arizona and Arizona State University, both of which said last week that they intend to resume in-person classes in the fall. Other schools, including the University of California system, are holding off on announcing their plans.

Clark County’s K-12 schools will remain closed through summer, with summer school handled through distance education. Superintendent Jesus Jara said on a media call Monday that what the next school year looks like will be decided in part by a task force chaired by Deputy Superintendent Brenda Larsen-Mitchell and Chief of Staff Christopher Bernier and made up of parents, teachers, administrators and support staff.

Staggered schedules and blended learning are on the table, he said, while the district will look to catch up on any missed standards from this quarter in the first quarter of the next year, relying in part on data from MAP growth assessments.

Contact Aleksandra Appleton at 702-383-0218 or aappleton@reviewjournal.com. Follow @aleksappleton on Twitter.

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