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2020-2021 school year kicks off in Nye County

Bright and early on the morning of Monday, Aug. 24, students and parents from around Nye County awoke to ready themselves and their children for the start of a brand new school year.

Though it is bound to be somewhat strange in comparison to the normality of years past, with some donning their backpacks and masks and heading off to campus for their first day back while others were logging on to their computers for their first virtual lessons of the term, students have now officially returned for the 2020-2021 academic year.

“The Nye County School District wants to take this opportunity to welcome back all of our students to what is sure to be a most memorable year,” Nye County School District Superintendent Warren Schillinburg, who took his new position just weeks ago, wrote in a welcome letter published Aug. 21. “Everyone in the district has been working tirelessly to prepare for the arrival of your children on Monday. The safety of your children and our staff is of the utmost importance to all of us, and we are following CDC guidelines and the governor’s directive to make sure your child is able to learn in the safest environment possible.”

As a matter of fact, the school district has even created an extensive document outlining exactly how the district plans to tackle the threat from the novel coronavirus, entitled the “COVID-19 Reopening Guide.” Over 32 pages, the district details everything from the three schooling models that have been established for the school year and requirements for students and staff, to cleaning procedures, precisely what actions must be taken in the event that an outbreak were to occur and more. That document can be accessed at www.nye.k12.nv.us by clicking on the “2020-2021 Information Page” link.

Schillinburg also took time in his welcome letter to remind parents and students of some of the key points contained in that document, first and foremost of which was a reminder that all students and staff, regardless of age, must wear a face covering.

“All K-12 students must wear a mask on the bus and in school; students who do not have a mask will be provided one. Teachers will also provide mask breaks to your children as appropriate,” Schillinburg’s letter read.

The only exception to the face covering requirement is for those who are able to secure an exemption. These can be obtained by filing a request in writing and providing documentation to support the reason for the exemption request. Exemptions must then be approved by the school principal or supervisor.

The welcome letter also explains the social distancing requirements as laid out by Gov. Steve Sisolak’s emergency directive number 28, which relies on recommendations from the American Pediatric Association and the Nevada Medical Advisory Team. These call for at least six feet of distance between students in high school and at least three feet of distance between those attending middle school or elementary. Students on buses are also asked to keep three feet apart. “We do understand we are talking about children,” Schillinburg acknowledged, “and we will help your children understand how to do this and still be able to interact with their classmates.”

COVID-19 screening will play its role in helping the school district in its endeavor to limit the spread of virus as well. All students and staff will undergo screening for symptoms each morning and of course, they are asked to stay home if they are not feeling well.

For parents themselves, they are asked not to congregate on campus and if they need to go inside of the school for any reason, they are encouraged to make an appointment first, to allow the school the ability to limit the number of persons in the office at one time.

“School is just not school without children present, and we are excited to see children back on our campuses,” Schillinburg told the Pahrump Valley Times following the conclusion of the first day of school on Aug. 24. “Most of our students are wearing their own masks, and with only about a third of our students attending classes in person each day, we are having no problem with social distancing. I could not be more proud of the exceptional job our entire staff has done to keep our students safe and to provide them with an exceptional education.”

Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at rhebrock@pvtimes.com

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