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KUNR Today: COVID-19 Cases Close Catholic School In Reno, Nev. Students Are Struggling Academically

An image of textbooks sitting on a desk in a classroom.
Alexa Ard
KUNR Public Radio

Here are the local news headlines for Friday, Sept. 17, 2021.

Virus Cases Close Reno School; Hospital Restricts Visitors
By The Associated Press

A private Catholic school in Reno for kindergartners through eighth graders is temporarily closing its doors due to numerous COVID-19 cases. The Reno Gazette-Journal reports Our Lady of the Snows Catholic School is closing at least until Sept. 27. One entire classroom was under quarantine. On Wednesday, Nevada’s hospital association urged residents to stay out of emergency rooms except in true emergencies, especially in northern Nevada where a resurgence in COVID-19 cases continues at a rate twice as high as Las Vegas. One Reno hospital has started restricting visitors but another says it has no current plans to re-open a temporary care site in a parking garage.

Nevada Officials: Most State Workers Will Get COVID-19 Shots
By The Associated Press

Nevada officials believe some state employees may follow through on threats to quit their jobs if forced to get COVID-19 shots. But they said Thursday they expect most will comply with Gov. Steve Sisolak’s mandate that workers at health care facilities and prisons be vaccinated by Nov. 1 or face administrative leave or reassignment. DuAne Young, the governor’s policy director, says they are developing contingency plans in the event more people quit their jobs than expected and monitoring the situation closely. He says they believe there will be some attrition, but in the end, most state employees will “step up and do what is right.”

82% Of UNR Faculty Vaccinated Against COVID-19
By Noah Glick

The University of Nevada, Reno said vaccination rates among campus employees have risen to 82%. That’s significantly higher than the 62.6% of Washoe County residents who are vaccinated.

According to the university’s COVID-19 dashboard, the test positivity rate at the student health center last week was 10.3%. That’s higher than the World Health Organization’s recommended rate of 5% before localities reopen, but it is significantly lower than the 20% test positivity rate Washoe County saw during the same time period.

Since the fall semester started on Aug. 23, 238 students and 23 faculty members have tested positive for the virus.

As a note of disclosure, the Nevada System of Higher Education owns the license to this station.

New Test Scores Show How Nevada Students Have Struggled Academically
By Paul Boger

Nevada schools experienced significant declines on last year’s math and English assessments. The data released by the Nevada Department of Education are the results from last academic year’s “Smarter Balanced” assessments.

They serve as a snapshot of how students in third through eighth grade are doing in math and English. Overall, it’s not great.

The latest results show that a little more than 41% of test-takers scored proficient in English. Only 26% scored proficient in math.

Those are big drops from the pre-pandemic 2018-2019 school year; however, due to federal and state waivers, the test scores will not be used to assess school accountability scores.

Republicans Lisa Krasner, Bob Lucey Announce Intent To Run In 2022
By Paul Boger

Assemblywoman Lisa Krasner and Washoe County Commissioner Bob Lucey officially announced that they intend to be on next year’s midterm election ballot.

The pair announced their intent to run in separate press releases and are among the first to make their bids public.

Krasner, who has served in the Assembly since 2016, is looking to replace term-limited Senator Ben Kieckhefer, who represents southern Washoe County and Carson City. Lucey is seeking his third and final term on the Washoe County Commission.

New Ad Campaign Targets Nevada’s Chronic School Absenteeism
By Paul Boger

Local philanthropic groups have launched an ad campaign aimed at improving school attendance for students in kindergarten through third grade.

Nearly one in three public school students were considered chronically absent last year, according to state data. That means they missed at least 10% of school days in a year, excused or not.

Summer Stephens is the superintendent of Churchill County Schools. She said it can have an impact beyond academics, especially for younger students.

“When they’re disconnected, their ability to improve themselves personally in all of the elements that make up the whole child decrease because of that lack of engagement,” Stephens said.

That’s why the United Way of Northern Nevada and the Sierra, along with the Northern Nevada Reading Coalition, have produced an ad campaign aimed at educating parents about how attendance is often a key component in future academic success. The ads will appear in both English and Spanish.

Wildfires Threaten Sequoia National Park
By The Associated Press

Forest fires are threatening groves of gigantic sequoias in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains that are home to some of the world’s largest trees. At a Thursday briefing, crews were told flames would likely reach the famous Giant Forest in Sequoia National Park. Two fires have been burning in the park since lightning ignited them last week. To the south, a fire on the Tule River Indian Reservation and in Giant Sequoia National Monument has grown significantly. Sequoia National Forest officials say that fire burned into part of one sequoia grove and is a threat to others. A review of the damage to the grove hasn’t been done yet.

Noah Glick is a former content director and host at KUNR Public Radio.
Paul Boger is a former reporter at KUNR Public Radio.
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