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Trustees approve hybrid model to begin school

By Steve Ranson Nevada News Group
Superintendent Summer Stephens, left, discusses the school district’s reopening plan as board president Matt Hyde follows along in his notes.
Steve Ranson / LVN

A/B plan topped surveys from parents, teachers

Plans are progressing to open school later this month after the Churchill County School Board approved last week a hybrid model of instruction for the 2020-2021 school year.

Earlier in July trustees voted to begin school Aug. 25. Superintendent Dr. Summer Stephens outlined the school district’s hybrid model for more than an hour to trustees. The Department of Education says each district must follow a state guideline and include fully remote instruction, a hybrid option and a fully open plan.

“The leadership team and I came up with such a plan,” she told trustees.

Trustees unanimously approved an AM/PM plan, now known as A & B for in-school instruction. Based on surveys and feedback from parents and teachers, Stephens said the A & B plan emerged as the favorite model. Students in two cohorts (A & B) will attend three-hour sessions in-person at their respective schools.

Stephens said details are still being developed, but her latest update was scheduled to come out earlier this week. She is also asking for help from the county’s businesses for flexibility with employees’ schedule if the parents or guardians need to transport their children to school.

The teacher daily schedule is as follows: — Elementary: 7:45 a.m.-3:15 p.m. Monday through Friday with additional collaboration time on the first and third Wednesdays of the month; Secondary — 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday through Friday with additional collaboration time on the first and third Wednesdays of the month. Teachers will have a period of time between sessions for room cleaning, duty-free lunch, and planning and preparation.

Stephens said students in grades K-12 will be assigned to a cohort or period of instruction and will be required to attend school for either three hours in the morning or three hours in the afternoon. At the end of this article is a link of the district’s plan that will answer questions ranging from lunch to recess.

Stephens said all children will be required to wear a face covering unless there’s a medical exemption. She said the state, though, is allowing latitude for social distancing for students in the elementary and middle schools. She said the instance is 3 feet if students use a face covering. Other provisions have been discussed for having students assemble in larger rooms or a cafeteria.

“We’ll continue to move forward but ensure our students are safe,” she said.

The school district said about 150 students in grades 1-12 have been signed up to complete their education via online.

“Any student who wants to be full remote can for the 2020-21 school year,” she added.

Stephens said the school district learned much from the spring and offers to provide access to licensed staff during the school day for those students remaining home.

Stephens answered questions in last week’s update which had been asked by parents on various social media sites:

• The school district is working to ensure that households are on the same schedule PK-12.

• The district is using household last names.

• Stephens said the school district will collect a list of families who have no preference for which time they are assigned and implement an appeal process for families who are concerned about their assigned time of day.

• Transportation regulations may change requiring some in-town residents to provide transportation for their children.

• Specific start/end times for each location are being finalized to ensure families and buses to the schools can arrive quickly.

• Stephens said new and returning staff will return at different dates this month.

For secondary students, the school district will follow district and Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association’s (NIAA) guidelines in connection to activities and athletics at all levels. NIAA activities are now scheduled to begin in January 2021 dependent upon the phase of reopening the state is experiencing.

Trustees offered different opinions before voting for this year’s plan.

Carmen Schank said more people preferred the morning and afternoon schedule.

“We need to do our best to keep a positive attitude,” Kathryn Whitaker said. “We need to be focused and as helpful as possible.”

Amber Getto said part of the process is also getting people back to work

Trustee Fred Buckmaster said he was glad he didn’t have children still in school but still supported the plan.

Board President Matt Hyde said no matter what the school district decided during the meeting, trustees weren’t going to make everyone happy.

Trustee Phil Pinder made the motion to approve the plan, and Schank seconded. It passed 7-0.

The entire reopening plan and guiding principles may be found at https://drive.google.com/file/d/1VoH_QTMwaZZeY6Lz2oGXkGPvQ0YSYBoJ/view