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Pahrump elementary schools to observe hybrid education model

With less than a month left before youth across Nye County are scheduled to begin the new school year, the Nye County School District has announced a change in its school re-entry plans, switching Pahrump area K-5 schools from the originally selected 100% in-person education model to the hybrid model that requires students to conduct their learning online three days out of the five-day school week.

“While it is the goal of Pahrump elementary schools to return to robust face-to-face instruction for all students, it is necessary at this time for the new school model to be a hybrid of in-school learning and distance learning,” the letter issued on July 29 reads.

The letter goes on to explain that hybrid schooling will require students to be separated into cohorts, with cohort A scheduled to attend school on campus on Mondays and Wednesdays and attend online classes on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Those in cohort B will head to campus on Tuesdays and Thursdays and will attend classes online on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Cohorts are to be assigned by the district but parents were assured that all students in the same family will be placed in the same cohort.

The letter notes that elementary school hours are set at 9:10 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. and that teachers will be providing both in-school and distance learning from the school at which they are employed. The schedule will be reviewed on a quarterly basis, according to the document.

Additional information is included in the letter as well, outlining the school district’s priorities. These points highlight the desire to provide a safe and healthy environment for students and staff, with the letter emphasizing, “Staff and students will be required to wear masks and practice social distancing while on campus.” There are no exceptions to the mask requirement based on age, though school building administration can make exceptions for medical reasons.

Masks are also required for all students who will be utilizing school transportation.

Of course, anyone with symptoms such as coughing, sneezing or a fever will be required to stay home.

Another priority for the schools is ensuring all students have access to the technology they need in order to participate in distance learning. To this end, each student will be assigned a Chromebook at the start of the school year. “The district is also exploring different opportunities for internet access for students who do not currently have adequate internet access,” the letter states. “As a school, we will be working to train families on our current online platforms. Our aim is to ensure that families have the learning tools they need in order to achieve success.”

Parents of elementary students all over the valley are expressing their frustration with the change in model, particularly those parents who are not able to work from home but must continue to head into their place of employment. Now, these parents are forced into a situation that requires them to either change their work schedule, reduce the number of hours they work or else find a babysitter or daycare provider to ensure their children remain safe and academically active while the parents are at work.

“I’m so angry. How are parents supposed to support our families if we have to be a teacher three days a week?” Pahrump parent Kim Elliott wrote in a Facebook post, noting that her eldest child already has difficulties keeping focused while learning and the presence of her younger siblings will only compound this problem.

Leanna Dixon replied to the post, “Yeah, kids are going to fail like crazy,” later adding, “I know for a fact I’m not a teacher when I watched my son’s grades take a steep nosedive. Can’t work and teach at the same time.” Nora Fletcher joined the comment thread to offer a suggestion, telling others, “If you’re interested, join a homeschooling group for ideas and support. There’s one in Pahrump.”

Another Facebook user, Bonnie Nichols Andoe, wrote on the Pahrump Valley Times’ Facebook page, “This is such crap! Poor kids! Poor working parents!”, while Tim Martin posted a graphic reading, “That’s about the dumbest thing I ever heard.”

Not all parents are upset about the change, however, as some have already planned to have their students take part in 100% distance learning as an added precaution against the risks associated with COVID-19.

“And you also have the option to do distance learning. That’s what we are going to do with our grandchildren,” Theresa Vail wrote, to which Leann Rich replied, “Good job Theresa. Protect(ing) the babies is always smart.”

Parents who wish to enroll their children in 100% distance learning must sign a contract with the school district.

“Parents requesting full-time, school-based distance learning are required to fill out this form for each student and submit it to the school(s). This form is referenced in the return to school surveys being published on Wednesday, July 29 by each school,” information on the Nye County School District’s website states. The contract can be found at www.nye.k12.nv.us under the “News” section or on the website for the individual school at which the student is enrolled. The parent survey can also be accessed on the individual school websites.

The re-entry plans for Rosemary Clarke Middle School and Pahrump Valley High School have not changed and these students will also be participating in a hybrid school model.

All schools outside of Pahrump, however, have been approved for 100% in-person learning, as the number of students attending those schools is much lower than the number of students that attend schools in Pahrump. Parents of students in schools outside of Pahrump have to option for 100% distance learning as well.

For more information contact the school district at 775-727-7743.

Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at rhebrock@pvtimes.com

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