Nevada Joint Union High School District discusses plan for return to school
With the 2020-21 school year set to begin Aug. 17, Nevada Joint Union High School District administrators have shared their intended plan to have students return to school while following public health guidance about mitigating the spread of COVID-19.
In a meeting Wednesday, district administrators addressed parent concerns and explained their proposed new format and on-campus practices, which are pending school board approval. A special board meeting will take place Wednesday.
“We know students have a need for peer-to-peer contact, access to quality instruction, extracurriculars, making meaningful connections along the way, and we know parents need to get to work,” said Assistant Superintendent Dan Frisella, adding that he does not view any of the possible options as optimal.
Frisella said the district has arrived at a hybrid instructional model as a suitable middle ground between a full return to school and a fully distanced approach.
The hybrid model would involve splitting the student body alphabetically into two cohorts, one of which would attend school in person on Mondays and Tuesdays while the other attends on Thursdays and Fridays. Each student would still be enrolled in six periods, and would attend three of them on each of their two assigned days.
This system would place around 15 students in a classroom at one time, allowing for the distancing recommended by local public health officials. On Wednesdays, and following school dismissal on Fridays, deep cleaning is planned to take place between cohorts.
According to Frisella, division of cohorts by factors such as grade level was considered, but last name was identified as the best option in order to simplify planning for families with multiple children enrolled in the district.
Responding to significant concern among parents throughout the emergency implementation of distance learning this spring, Frisella said the district’s educators have designed solutions to several technology-specific issues. All students will have access to a Chromebook, and staff will maintain a single learning management system, Schoology. In addition, the district is looking into provider options to assist students with limited internet access.
Families will also have the option of full distance learning, an alternative the district estimates 15% of families may opt for based on an early June survey.
The district does not intend to return to a pass/fail grading system as implemented during the spring, and will be returning to traditional letter grades.
“We believe that, with 50% or less on buses, we should be able to allow for distancing,” said Frisella. Students in distant or difficult to access areas would be prioritized for transportation assistance.
Athletic director Daniel Crossen addressed concerns regarding upcoming sports seasons, saying that he will receive and pass along information from the California Interscholastic Federation next week as they set their calendar.
Janet Horowitz, director of special education and pupil services, said students in special education programs will receive instruction individualized to their needs. She added that she will be reaching out to parents to better determine these needs following next week’s school board meeting.
“The state has mandated that we include daily live interactions with students,” said Horowitz. “Their (Individualized Education Programs) will be developed to address emergency closures of the school if we go into distance learning full time.”
“The guidance from the county has been that temperatures and symptom screenings are to be performed at home by parents before sending students to school,” said Frisella. “If anyone exhibits a symptom, including staff, they are not to attend school.”
Concerning personal protective equipment, masks will be required for students and staff, and those with a condition preventing the usage of a mask will be asked to wear a face shield. The district will be providing PPE, although individuals may bring their own.
“At this point in time, we feel that our model is what we can do in our county,” said Frisella.
Victoria Penate is a staff writer for The Union. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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