The Carson City School District has posted its revised Safe School Reopening Plan for the 2021-22 school year.
The Carson City school board on Tuesday performed a six-month review of its safe school reopening plan and posted the document this week after making revisions to its language about providing academic and social services.
Community members, however, expressed concerns about the effects of mask mandates upon children in the classroom in response to the item.
The Safe School Reopening Plan and Path Forward for Distance Education was required of school districts last year for the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funding available to states to assist school districts and educational services after the pandemic. COVID-19 prevented sites from fully operating at capacity as they adapted to hybrid models or closed completely at times, resulting in learning loss.
Superintendent Richard Stokes, introducing the item to the board, said the district received additional suggestions from the NDE on expanding its processes outlined in its plan, also formulated by grants and special projects director Valerie Dockery.
Dockery, in her presentation, said updates to the plan included information about vaccine clinics, which the district itself does not offer. Instead, it collaborates with Carson City Health and Human Services or Nevada Health Centers throughout the year to distribute information or vaccines to staff, students and families.
Carson City’s plan proposed several options for all students, including full in-person instruction five days per week or distance education for those able to attend campus on site or who must stay at home for health-related reasons. If governmental authorities closed or limited school operations and the district activated a hybrid model, CCSD must provide the equipment to offer distance education.
The plan now also addresses processes for reducing the likelihood of an outbreak and testing guidance.
Accommodating special populations was included, since social distancing was an issue to assist students with disabilities or are medically fragile, Dockery pointed out. She added the district already was following the Centers for Disease Control and Protection’s Guidance.
She also said the district has been addressing students’ social and emotional health, as outlined by the district’s strategic plan, but it now better lists in tiers its framework for specific supports and outcomes such as intervention strategies for behavior issues.
Trustee Joe Cacioppo reminded the public the federal and state departments requested the plan.
“We didn’t change the contents of the plan,” he said. “If you didn’t like the plan before about the masks, you’re not going to like it now. It didn’t change the substance of the plan. … And I know we have concerns about masks, and we’ll continue working with Mr. Stokes and moving forward to get to a normal point again.”
Dockery said nothing about the plan was removed.
“They liked our basic plan, they did not rate anything related to mask wearing,” Dockery said. “Their perspective is how are (we) keeping school safe and making sure we’re keeping in compliance with federal law in keeping school safe.”
Public comment on the item opposed the school district’s continuing use on the masks.
Resident Richard Nagel said he thought school officials should focus more on “requirements versus the recommendations.”
“Cardiologists are saying the masks are completely worthless,” Nagel said. “It’s time to make a choice on where to go and lose the masks and save our children.”
Shanna Cobb-Adams, mother of three children and an employee for Nevada Medicaid, expressed concerns about the added language in the document. She shared a personal story about her daughter who was diagnosed with kidney disease as a 2-year-old and has never had to wear masks prior to the mandates. She said she now takes issue of the fear and mental health issues students are experiencing in school today.
“She is in high risk of severe complications from COVID, but in life, we take risks,” Cobb-Adams said. “We have taken risks for the last 13 years. Anything that goes around can land her in the hospital and eventually lead to kidney failure. … This has been very difficult spending as many years as I have trying to teach my child to not to live in fear to now be forced to have her live in fear because of this when I have had to drive her to Stanford when a parent sent their kid to school with chicken pox, which could land my child in the hospital or kill her.”
Trustee Laurel Crossman said the majority of feedback she has received generally has been in favor of keeping students in schools even if it means students are wearing masks, referring to the first two weeks of school when more than 500 students were excluded for COVID.
“From what I have heard, from most of the parents I speak to, they want their kids in school and most parents have reached out to me … have said, ‘I’m fine wearing masks, I don’t want remote learning,’ ” Crossman said. “I have concerns right now with the high number of sicknesses that are going around and the high number of staff that I’ve heard and the friends of kids who have a lot of sick friends right now. I would hesitate during this month to make any drastic changes to (the plan) right now.”