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Sisolak extends closure of Nevada K-12 schools to April 16

Updated March 24, 2020 - 3:47 pm

The Nye County School District, along with K-12 schools across the state, will remain closed until April 16, per a second directive for schools by Gov. Steve Sisolak. The order puts it in sync with the governor’s recent directive to close all nonessential businesses in the state for 30 days to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Sisolak announced the closure of all K-12 schools through April 6 less than a week earlier on Sunday, March 15, a day prior to Nye students were to returning to the classroom. The closures included public, private and charter schools.

“Each decision we are making in response to the COVID-19 crisis is based on the latest scientific data and recommendations from health officials, which can sometimes change as frequently as every hour,” Sisolak said in a press release from Nevada Health Response.

Under the new directive, school buildings and district office sites will not reopen until April 16.

“This directive supports academic continuity during this time, aligns the school closure date based on updated advice from health experts, and suspends state testing requirements,” the Sisolak’s release stated.

A release from the Nye County School District stated, “School buildings will reopen no earlier than April 16, 2020, and only upon the approval of the chief medical officers of the state of Nevada after a review of the risk of transmission within the geographic area defined by the chief medical officer.”

“I have been working closely with Superintendent of Public Instruction Jhone Ebert and the Nevada Department of Education to ensure our response to this unprecedented public health crisis is in the best interest of our students, their families, teachers, and all of the essential staff involved in the education of our children,” Sisolak said in the release.

The U.S. Department of Education approved a waiver of federal assessments, accountability, school identification and reporting requirements for the current school year, with a request submitted by Ebert on March 20. Sisolak also suspended state assessment requests, according to the release.

“I am grateful for the school and district staff who have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to doing what is best for Nevada’s children, day in and day out,” Sisolak said in the release. “I want to recognize the many districts and schools that have already marshaled their talent and resources to provide distance learning opportunities to students.”

Public and charter schools that haven’t started providing distance learning must do so by March 23 or the school’s next regularly scheduled session day.

A process is being established by the Nevada Department of Education where school districts can request approval for an “Emergency Program of Distance Learning,” the release stated.

“I want to thank Governor Sisolak for his steadfast leadership during this challenging time for our students, educators, staff, and communities,” Ebert said. “The Nevada Department of Education remains committed to providing timely and accurate information and necessary support to districts and schools so that every student has the chance to continue their education.”

The Nye school district developed and submited its “NCSD’s Learning-at-a-Distance Plan” on Sunday. The “Emergency Program of Distance Education” plan had the support Nye County School District Board of Trustees.

“If Nye County School District had failed to submit the Emergency Program of Distance Education request, we would be required to submit an updated school calendar indicating our plan to make up these lost instructional days during this COVID-19 school closure period,” the school district’s release stated.

Sisolak’s directive expanded the definition of distance education under Nevada Revised Statutes to include “paper correspondence to ensure students have access to educational opportunities regardless of their means, access to technology, or at-home support,” the release stated.

Current statutes define distance education instruction to be delivered by video, computer, television or the internet or other electronic communication.

Contact Interim Editor Jeffrey Meehan at jmeehan@pvtimes.com

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