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Nevada Joint Union to extend distance learning until Feb. 1

The Nevada Joint Union High School District will extend its pause from in-person instruction until Feb. 1 “in light of an expected surge,” district Superintendent Brett McFadden said.

The district first announced it would be pausing its hybrid instructional model — and returning to distance learning — in late November, with all of the district’s campuses doing so Nov. 30.

District administrators had previously announced next Tuesday as a possible date for return to on-campus, in-person instruction, but McFadden said Wednesday that public health concerns motivated the district to postpone.



“We were experiencing community spread within our campuses,” said McFadden, citing the conclusions of the district’s nurses and Nevada County Public Health regarding the district’s 42 confirmed student and staff cases since the beginning of the school year.

According to a message sent to district families by Assistant Superintendent Dan Frisella, eight of the district’s confirmed COVID-19 cases were active as of Tuesday.




As the district’s case count rose quickly in November, said McFadden, it became difficult to maintain school operations given the number of people needing to quarantine after contracting the virus or having been exposed.

McFadden said that, for example, Nevada Union High School needed 23 substitute teachers one day — more than the number of high-school eligible substitute teachers in the county — resulting in administrators and others having to step in.

“I’m far more optimistic about going back to the hybrid model on Feb. 1 than I was in the fall,” said McFadden, citing expected developments in the near future with regards to testing and vaccination.

Effective testing, according to McFadden, became a major hurdle for the district in November as county testing sites experienced increased demand and the process of scheduling, taking, and receiving results from a COVID-19 test could take up to two weeks.

He said the district is collaborating with the county Superintendent of Schools’ Office to provide staff a rapid testing option, which he expects will allow them to test immediately after a potential exposure and receive results — allowing them to return to work if negative — within two or three days.

On expected vaccinations, McFadden said, “We’re being informed that the vaccine administration is being ramped up, and that it’s possible educators and school district staff may be eligible to receive the vaccine either at the end of this month or early February.”

He said the district is in communication with Nevada County Public Health about whether the district’s school nurses would be able to administer vaccines for the district, and that they’ll “do that as quickly as we physically, possibly can.”

Victoria Penate is a staff writer for The Union. She can be reached at vpenate@theunion.com.


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