In a little more than a month, students across Nevada will settle into the 2020-2021 academic year, but as COVID-19 continues to spread, school officials in Washoe County are rethinking what in-person instruction may look like.
Under a plan released by the Washoe County School District, elementary school students would return to the classroom full-time while middle and high school students, on the other hand, will alternate between in-person and distance learning.
Part of the reason for the alternating schedule is due to increased social distancing.
“For example, in a multi-purpose room in an elementary school, we may actually have to put a classroom in there — a larger-type classroom,” said District Superintendent Kristen McNeill, “so that we’re providing all of the social distancing requirements. We may have to utilize our gyms in our middle and high schools in a different way. So it’s really taking a look at what a facility will allow and then planning from what a typical school day will look like.”
In addition to the adjusted class sizes and alternating schedules, families can also continue distance learning if that's what they see fit. The district is also considering staggered start times and extended school days to accommodate the modified schedules.
According to Board of Trustees President Malena Raymond, the district is doing everything it can to ensure students remain as safe as possible.
“We are going to do our best as a district to provide as normal an environment as possible for our students, families, teachers,” Raymond said, “but we are living in a COVID world and our schools have to be prepared for that pandemic atmosphere.”
Before the district can implement the plans, they must first be approved by the school board and the state at least 20 days before the start of the fall semester in August.