Full in-person learning resumes Monday
By RANDY PATRICK
Monday is the day many children, teens, parents, and teachers have looked forward to for a whole year.
It is the day Clark County Public School students will return to full in-person learning.
It will, however, look different than in the past. Students and staff must be masked at all times except when they are eating their meals, and they will all be faced in the same direction in the cafeteria. There will be more space between their desks. Temperature checks will be required daily, teachers will have hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes. Schedules will be changed to avoid large numbers of students congregating.
“There is no substitute for in-person learning, and we know that,” Greg Hollon, the school district’s academic director, said Wednesday.
Superintendent Paul Christy said that with COVID-19 infection rates going down across the state, the positivity rate being below 4 percent, teachers being 16 days past their second vaccinations, the governor recommending a return to classes, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issuing new guidelines for coping with the coronavirus, it seemed the time was right.
Christy had gotten some criticism for not sending students back into the classrooms on a large scale after the coronavirus outbreak last year, although small groups were allowed to return months ago, and the schools recently implemented a hybrid instruction plan where students went to class two days a week and learned online from home three days.
Under the in-person plan, they will still be doing distance learning on Wednesdays but will be in the classrooms Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.
“I was not going to put kids back in school until I felt it was safe for the staff and safe for the kids, and it’s as safe as it’s going to be for the kids now because they are not going to get the vaccine,” he said.
“We’re doing all the things we can” to make school safe for everyone, Christy said. “We’re staggering schedules so there aren’t entire groups of kids in the hallways at the same time. We’re scheduling by groups. And in a lot of schools, we’re not even changing classes. The teachers are moving around some, and the kids are staying in the same rooms. We’ve got a lot of different things in place,” he said.
In all the buildings, we try to physically distance as much as possible.
Hollon said that any space in the schools, when it isn’t being used for other purposes, is subject to being used as classroom space.
“It will look different than it has in the past for the remainder of the school year just because of what we’ve gone through, but our goal is to try to make this situation that we’re in as normal as possibly can,” Hollon said.
Hollon mentioned that full-time distance learning is still available for those who chose that, and they were recently allowed to change their choice, but most didn’t. The ratio is about the same as it has been since the pandemic began last March. Currently, about 28 percent have opted for distance learning and 72 percent have chosen in-person classes.
“It has been fairly consistent,” he said.
During hybrid learning, the schools were closed on Wednesdays for cleaning, but that isn’t the only reason students will all be virtual on that day, Christy said.
“We’re doing some professional development for teachers to help them work through these times and teaching them the learning strategy that works for these types of conditions,” he said.
Teachers will do team planning meetings on Wednesdays and will work with virtual teachers on that day.
“It’s more than just deep cleaning,” he said.
Start times will be the same as before:
• Preschool, 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.
• Baker Intermediate, 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
• Elementary schools, 7:50 a.m. to 2:50 p.m.
• GRC High School, 8:35 a.m. to 3:35 p.m.
• RDC Junior High, 8:50 a.m. to 3:50 p.m.
• Phoenix, 8:50 a.m. to 3:50 p.m.
• Bus transportation will be according to regular routes and times as posted on the CCPS website, www.clarkschools.net.
More information is available by calling Central Office at 744-4545, extension 1015.