Western Nevada County schools close, distance learning continues, for remainder of year
On Tuesday night, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond reached out to local superintendents to inform them that schools would likely close for the rest of the school year.
Then on Wednesday at his regular coronavirus briefing, Gov. Gavin Newsom said schools would close while distance learning continues for the rest of the year.
But, as has sometimes been the case, the governor did not issue an executive order closing schools, leaving the final decision up to local school districts.
Around midday Thursday the Nevada County Superintendent of Schools office officially decided to follow suit, issuing an email that went out to the community announcing the closure of schools for the remainder of the year.
The Tahoe Truckee Unified School District has not made the same decision, but is considering following the governor’s suggestion.
The Nevada County Superintendent of Schools’ email states that if the stay-at-home order is lifted by Newsom, schools could reopen.
While it’s doubtful that local schools would reopen for the summer in July or August — which would depend on legislation and money distributions from the state Capitol — many things remain unknown, according to Nevada County Superintendent of Schools Scott Lay. There are open questions about what will happen regarding grading (whether to move to the pass/fail model), graduation (whether to have one virtually), and the importance of course completion for those trying to attend university next year. Lay said high school administrators are collaborating over the next two days to try to determine how to move forward.
“I don’t think there’s anything that’s off the table right now,” he said. “Our work is really just beginning as administrators try to figure this out.”
Right now, maintaining equity and ensuring students with the least resources and parental support do not fall through the gaps is a big issue for school districts, said Lay.
Nevada Joint Union High School District Superintendent Brett McFadden agreed.
“The big issue for me is equity. There’s a sizable portion of our community that is low socioeconomic,” he said. “There’s no way to be completely equitable, but we’re going to go above and beyond, especially for our families and students that need our extra help.”
Lay said he recently wrote to Newsom requesting help to bolster, or establish, internet access in more rural places in the county, like North San Juan.
While most parents are taking the matter of distance learning seriously for their kids, some parents in school districts across the area have yet to pick up instructional packets, said Lay.
McFadden agreed, noting that the district wants to help in any way it can. That is, if parents are struggling to help their students, the district wants to know about it. The superintendent noted that there are Wi-Fi hotspots on all campuses in the district for students to download their online material, if they don’t have adequate access at home.
“Distance learning is not something you can just blow off,” said McFadden. “It’s not perfect by any means, but it’s what’s going to happen for the remainder of the year.”
Some guidance as to how students and schools should be adjusting to the pandemic have been included online by the governor’s office.
Other changes have already started.
The University of California system has suspended the need for students to take the ACT and SAT for 2021 admissions, according to EdSource. Some colleges have already adjusted to a pass/fail grading scale.
Whatever is to happen in the next few months, though, parents are having to adjust to helping their kids with homework — and some are realizing how difficult it is.
“‘We never realized how hard teaching is,’” McFadden said one parent told him.
To contact Staff Writer Sam Corey, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4219.
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