Stokes: No plans for older Carson City elementary students to return to campus
The Carson City School District will not be pursuing the return of its third through sixth grade students back into classrooms at this time due to an increase in COVID-19 cases and other challenges, according to Superintendent Richard Stokes in a report to the Board of Trustees on Tuesday.
Although the district currently is experiencing success with its pre-kindergarteners through second graders, who returned to regular in-person, on-campus instruction four days a week for the second quarter on Oct. 20, currently there are too many local and national difficulties that have risen recently to bring the next age group back to the classroom with the same success at this time, Stokes told the trustees.
“If you think about putting a second grader, or 25 second graders, in a class, that looks quite a bit different as putting 25 fifth graders in a class, and just with the size of the students’ bodies and with the classroom still being the same size, it’s a challenge to socially distance,” Stokes said during his report.
The district initially selected Dec. 1, the first Tuesday after the Thanksgiving holiday, for students in the upper grades at the elementary level — third, fourth and fifth — and sixth graders at the middle schools to return for the four-day, in-person schedule, Stokes said. However, staffing considerations and survey results revealed some discomfort at this decision.
Also, Gov. Steve Sisolak’s announcement Tuesday asking families and workers to take proper precautions the next two weeks and work from home as much as possible to mitigate the COVID-19 virus has impacted the administration’s planning, Stokes said.
“We’re going to be carrying on as we always have,” he said. “But as far as bringing students back to schools, we’re going to wait for the time being.”
Trustee Stacie Wilke-McCulloch asked about the state of spring sports during the second semester and whether anything might have to be done differently for Carson High School. Stokes said the daily schedule would still be maintained among the two cohorts of students, but additional guidance is still needed from the governor’s office. Close-contact sports such as basketball and wrestling remain on hold, he said.
Trustee Laurel Crossman asked for more details regarding the middle schools and bringing back the sixth graders and maintaining social distancing for the older students.
“We determined coming back all at once is a better scenario; that allows us to manage the transportation portion,” Stokes answered. “That gives us a bit of a concern right now.”
He said in speaking with State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jhone Ebert, the district had hoped to have transportation social distancing requirements waived by now in seeking to bring back sports to school, but it’s not possible to have teams travel out of city limits and maintain social distancing.
Board president Mike Walker said he supported the ability to plan the district’s next steps slowly in regards to bringing back these older grades slowly and safely to meet the needs of students and staff.
“There’s a lot to consider here,” Walker said.