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Teachers transition to working at home with little impact on students

Local students are adjusting to another change as teachers now have to work from home through the end of the semester.

Last week, the Clark County School District announced that its teachers will need to telecommute through Dec. 18. Even though the students have been going to class away from the campus, local teachers and administrators have been working in the buildings.

“We’re still doing exactly the same thing we were doing before,” said Boulder City High School Principal Amy Wagner. “It just looks a little different.”

Wagner said about half of the teachers were working from the school and it was a “big transition” for them to work from home. She said they were able to take home what equipment they needed, and all the of them are making it work for the students and their families.

“Good teaching is still happening. … It just makes us have to work a little bit harder to connect with them (students and families),” she said.

The district’s decision followed Gov. Steve Sisolak’s recent request for Nevadans to stay home as much as possible through the end of the month to curb the spread of COVID-19. He also asked businesses to allow employees to work from home during that time.

The other local principals are confident that the students’ instruction will remain intact with this change.

“The teachers have been teaching remotely for months now and even those who were coming each day have a set-up at home for days that they could not come in,” said Garrett Junior High School Principal Melanie Teemant. “It will be an easy transition, with no disruption to the instruction.”

“All instruction will continue without interruption during this period and our hope is to provide a seamless transition for our teachers by allowing them to take home technology that they might need to continue to provide high-quality instruction for our students,” added Jason Schrock, principal of King Elementary School.

Mitchell Elementary School Principal Benjamin Day said the biggest struggle is how the students’ families pick up learning materials to use at home. They were able to come in weekly to get them. Day said they had to scramble to make sure everyone got what they needed for the month by Friday, Nov. 13.

“We will still be distributing food every day from the front of the building, as food service workers and our head custodian will still be allowed to work in the building,” he said. “The teachers who have been working from school will be taking their equipment home so that they can continue teaching online from their homes.”

For parents who need to contact the school or its staff, they reach them at the same phone numbers because most of the staff have had their telephone lines forwarded to them at home.

“Our school office phones have been forwarded to our personal phones allowing us to continue to support our parents by phone, email, ClassDojo and virtually through Google Classroom and Google Meet,” Schrock said.

Wagner said the phone lines at the high school have been forwarded and all the staff are answering them from home. Everyone is also checking and responding to their email.

CCSD also recently delayed setting a date for students to return to campus.

Last week, it released a hybrid learning transition plan that school trustees were expected to vote on Nov. 12. The hybrid plan would allow for in-person classes two days a week and distance education for three. It also gave parents the option of having their children continue with just distance education.

The trustees decided not to take action on it at the recommendation of School Board President Lola Brooks and CCSD Superintendent Jesus Jara.

Several days later Jara said the district will bring a plan to transition to some in-person instruction in January 2021.

Though a plan to transition to a hybrid model of instruction in January was brought to the school board last week, trustees voted to postpone the discussion until the Dec. 10 meeting.

A new school board will now vote on the plan, with trustees-elect Lisa Guzman, Katie Williams and Evelyn Garcia Morales set to be sworn in during January.

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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