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School district prepares for distance learning

By ThisIsReno
Washoe County School District administration building. Image: Carla O'Day.

Teams from Washoe County School District’s COVID-19 task force are finalizing plans to provide “distance learning” to the region’s 64,000 students after Governor Sisolak declared on Sunday that all Nevada schools remain closed through April 6.

Sisolak’s announcement came the day before Washoe County students began their two-week spring break. If the April 6 date holds, that means area students will only spend one week, March 30 through April 3, learning through these special arrangements.

Kristen McNeill, deputy superintendent, Washoe County School District.
Kristen McNeill, interim superintendent, Washoe County School District.

“Even though buildings are closed, we want the community to be reassured that we are developing thorough plans for learning and instruction to continue during this difficult and unprecedented time,” said WCSD Interim Superintendent Dr. Kristen McNeill.

“We realize that distance learning cannot fully replace the quality of face-to-face instruction, and we are prepared to provide our students with creative opportunities to continue their education while schools are closed.”

WCSD’s COVID-19 task force has yet to release details on the plan, but said it’s working to ensure teachers are prepared to deliver instruction to all students and that the necessary resources are provided to families to support their students with distance learning.

The task force is also focusing on student nutrition, special populations, and employee matters.

 “While there is much anxiety and angst in all of us given the COVID-19 pandemic, the Washoe County School District’s focus at this time is supporting each other, families, students, and the community to the best of our ability,” said WCSD Board President Malena Raymond.

“The Board of Trustees fully supports District leadership as they work quickly on comprehensive learning plans for all students. We are calling on all of our stakeholders to pull together in this spirit of collaboration to support the children throughout Washoe County.”

WCSD said that its response will remain fluid and it will adjust plans to support students as information and additional guidance from the Nevada Department of Education becomes available.

The district attempted to deliver learning opportunities during school closures in the past, called “digital days,” but was shot down by the Department of Education which said the practice wasn’t in compliance with state law. An attempt to clarify the law and create a digital option during the 2019 legislative session with AB314 failed to make it out of committee.

This Is Reno’s COVID-19 news coverage

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