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Local principals decide on plan for school year

Two local principals are moving ahead in starting the 2020-21 school year with online instruction instead of in-person classes due to a recent decision by the Clark County Board of School Trustees.

On Tuesday, July 21, the board unanimously approved having the 2020-21 school year start with a full-time return to distance learning.

“I will say with complete confidence that we will make any option work for our kids at Mitchell,” said Ben Day, principal at Mitchell Elementary School. “I know some parents will worry about whether or not they should keep their kids in a CCSD (Clark County School District) school due to wanting their children in a guaranteed physical classroom on a full-time basis in August, but being a parent myself, there’s no way I would send my children to a school other than Mitchell if I lived in Boulder City and had a child in grades K-2.”

Day said Mitchell’s staff is a reason for his confidence.

“We led the entire school district in growth from winter of 2019 to winter of 2020 and we implement a leadership model that is second to none, so much so that schools from all over the western region have come to tour our school to learn from us,” he said. “This is all due to the quality of teachers and staff we have at Mitchell, and I wouldn’t trade the kind of teacher you can get at Mitchell for any other type of school experience. When it comes to a high quality education, people always matter more than programs.”

In addition to distance learning, the board approved a hybrid teleworking model for professional development for staffers, a traditional schedule for high school students and a semester-based schedule for middle school students.

Melanie Teemant, principal of Garrett Junior High School, said she and her staff are putting the different pieces of their implementation plan together.

“Garrett will have all students online and teachers will have a choice to work from their classrooms or at home,” she said. “We are now working to design a new master schedule and place students in their four classes for the semester. We had already created a master schedule months ago with students in six classes that lasted all year. This will be a new piece for us and the students and their families, so we are working hard to make it as smooth as possible. Garrett is a 1:1 school, so access to devices are not an issue, but connectivity is going to be a challenge for some families, especially in Searchlight.”

According to the school district, staffers will be allowed to work in a hybrid model when and where possible, including the first 10 days of professional development at the beginning of the year. Rural schools will be allowed to reopen under a hybrid model if they meet certain health and safety criteria.

Day said the flexibility for rural schools could allow Mitchell to use alternative options if the school is considered rural in this situation.

The school year is scheduled to begin Aug. 24 for students. The 10 days of professional learning for staff members will start Aug. 10.

Trustees also requested they receive updates every 30 days on the status of COVID-19 in Nevada, with the aim of eventually transitioning to a blended learning model if health conditions allow, though no definite date was set for when students might return to school buildings.

Las Vegas Review-Journal Reporter Aleksandra Appleton contributed to this report.

Contact reporter Celia Shortt Goodyear at cgoodyear@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9401. Follow her on Twitter @csgoodyear.

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