Teacher Juliana Urtubey, center, works with Brian Avilas, left, and Jesus Calderon Lopez, right, in a class at Kermit R. Booker Sr. Elementary School on May 5, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
LAS VEGAS — Clark County school administrators cited "extreme staffing shortages" Tuesday in an announcement telling parents there will be no school for students on Friday and Jan. 18.
Clark County School District administrators said they hoped a five-day "pause" on classes through the weekend including the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday would help stop the spread of the virus "in order to continue face-to-face instruction."
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak responded to the decision with a statement saying he wants schools open for in-person learning and safe for students, educators and staff.
"Sadly, we are still dealing with the realities of a global pandemic," the governor acknowledged on a day that state health officials reported 31.3% — or nearly one in three — COVID-19 tests administered to people in the Las Vegas area have been positive for the virus.
Health officials are attributing a spike in case numbers nationally to the omicron variant, which spreads more easily than other coronavirus strains and more easily infects those who've been vaccinated or previously infected by prior versions of the virus.
Early studies show omicron is less likely to cause severe illness than the delta variant, and vaccinations and a booster offer strong protection from serious illness, hospitalization and death.
Health officials in Las Vegas reported more than 3,000 new coronavirus cases Tuesday for a fifth straight day, and 27 deaths, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.
Clark County School District, the nation's fifth-largest with more than 300,000 students and 40,000 employees, has reported staff shortages since resuming classes in August.
School officials also have reported above-average absence rates since in-person classes resumed Jan. 4 after a year-end holiday break.
The Review-Journal reported the student absence rate was 17% last week, and nearly 1,900 employees reported out sick.
Teachers and staff were instructed to work from home Friday and Jan. 18.