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Washoe County schools reopening plan approved

Updated July 9, 2020 - 11:30 am

The Washoe County School Board has approved a reopening plan for the upcoming school year that resembles Clark County’s proposal in some ways but calls for elementary school students to attend classes full time.

The board voted unanimously Tuesday during a nearly 10-hour meeting to approve the reopening plans.

The Washoe plan resembled CCSD in terms of older students, with middle and high school students in a rotating A/B schedule with half their instruction in person and half via distance learning.

But the plan diverges from Clark County’s when it comes to elementary students, who will attend full time in person.

At-risk populations of students — including those in self-contained special education programs, transition or foster care, or newcomers to the United States who are learning English — will have the option for full-time in-person classes at some schools.

Trustees also voted to require students, employees and visitors to wear face masks while on school properties and school buses, unless they have a medical exemption.

Just before the meeting adjourned, Washoe County School District Superintendent Kristen McNeill said the Reno-area district is making extremely difficult decisions that will affect about 8,000 employees and 64,000 students.School districts across the country are struggling with the same decision points, she said.

McNeill also referenced the start of the Legislature’s special session Wednesday morning and the need for federal action, too.

“Our state is not going to be able to do this lift without additional federal funding,” she said.

The Clark County School District is considering a reopening plan that would have cohorts of students attending school in person for two days a week and learning from home for the other three. And a third cohort of students would have the option of participating fully remotely.

CCSD trustees held a special meeting Monday and are slated to make a decision Thursday.

In the Washoe County School District, the first day of school is Aug. 17 for first- through 12th-grade students and Aug. 24 for kindergartners. The district will use Aug. 10-14 as professional development days for teachers.

The school board authorized district officials the flexibility to use one of two spring break weeks to make up instructional time, if needed, if there’s a COVID-19-spurred school closure.

Elementary school students will attend classes in person Monday through Friday, contingent on the ability to fund, staff and physically accommodate the plan. The superintendent is authorized to make changes, if necessary.

The middle and high school hybrid learning models include an A/B rotation schedule. Each cohort of students will spend two or three days a week — depending on the week — receiving in-person instruction and the rest of the time participating in distance learning.

Trustees expressed concerns about whether all students will have access to mobile computing devices and internet access.

Families will have the option of having their child enroll full time via distance learning — a plan the school board approved June 23.

Options include North Star Online School — the school district’s K-12 online school — or requesting a full-time schedule through online curriculum provider Edgenuity, which is for grades 6-12.

Contact Julie Wootton-Greener at jgreener@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2921. Follow @julieswootton on Twitter.

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