Nevada County schools plan support services for students, families
As the beginning of the 2020-21 school year approaches, Nevada County school districts — some of which are returning to partial in-person instruction while others remain fully in a distance learning model — are taking varied approaches to supporting their students beyond the classroom.
Nevada City School District, whose schools will be returning in a hybrid instructional model, will continue to provide cafeteria lunches five days per week to its students who have previously qualified for free or reduced price lunch. As of an informational meeting held Tuesday, district administrators said they were working on providing lunch for other students who wished to purchase meals.
Library materials will be available for Nevada City School District students to check out through their school’s library website. Upon checking out a library book, it will be delivered to the student.
Plans for various in-person services are under development at Grass Valley School District, whose schools will begin the upcoming school year in a distance learning model.
In a July 29 district reopening presentation led by Superintendent Andrew Withers, staff said the district was reviewing all options for providing childcare in coordination with the Nevada County Superintendent of Schools Office.
They said, however, that they had no confirmed plans to offer child care. Plans for tutoring, counseling, and library services were also awaiting confirmation amid talks with staff bargaining units.
Asked on July 31 about the developing plans for these services, administrative assistant Kathryn Boswell said she had no further information. Boswell confirmed the district would continue to offer meals to students while the schools remain in a distance learning format, as they have since March 16.
Clear Creek School District Superintendent Carolyn Cramer said all students will be able to acquire lunch whether they have opted to receive in-person instruction or distance learning as the district begins the year in a hybrid model.
The district is exploring the possibility of building more robust support for mental health concerns among its students.
“We do not currently have a counselor on campus, but we have access to mental health referrals through Nevada County and are considering adding some counseling services to our school,” Cramer wrote in an email.
In a parent meeting last week, Penn Valley Union Elementary School District Superintendent Torie Gibson described the measures the district is taking to create support systems for students.
“Mental health services will be provided to students, both individually as well as for family-based services,” said Gibson. “We will also provide small group and peer-to-peer connectedness sessions.”
Gibson said the district is still working out the details involved in meal distribution, and that it has not yet been confirmed whether students will need to fill out the paperwork usually involved in a normal school year or if lunches will be handed out more freely as they had been this spring and summer.
A list of tutors will be made available for Penn Valley Union families’ use, and they will be responsible for arranging tutoring privately. However, there will be intervention teachers available to supplement virtual instruction, supporting students in both small group and individual sessions.
According to Nevada County Superintendent of Schools Scott Lay, many are working to establish child care for local families of students now on a fully remote or reduced in-person instructional schedule.
“The biggest thing we’re looking at is we know there is not enough child care in Nevada County,” said Lay. “That’s something we’re trying to pull multiple agencies together for to see if we can come up with anything.”
Some of the agencies involved in this collaborative effort include the Superintendent of Schools Office, Sierra Nevada Children’s Services, the California Department of Education, and local youth-serving organization Bright Futures for Youth.
“There is no extra pot of money for this child care, so unfortunately there would most likely be a fee — we’re trying to reduce that fee down to help our struggling families in Nevada County,” said Lay.
Lay also said that, whether individual school districts have decided to begin the school year in a distanced or hybrid model, all schools will continue to offer the counseling services they had in past years.
“Some are adding additional counseling services because they know mental health was an issue with the isolation in distance learning and not seeing friends,” said Lay, adding that county schools have maintained a relationship with the Nevada County Department of Behavioral Health. “When we see something, we immediately contact (Behavioral Health) so they can offer counseling services well, so those should definitely be beefed up from what we were able to do in the spring,” he said.
Victoria Penate is a staff writer for The Union. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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