LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The decision to reopen schools in Clark County and the rest of the state should be up to Nevada’s Governor and not the state’s school districts, according to the Clark County Education Association (CCEA).
The largest teachers union in Nevada, CCEA, believes that Gov. Sisolak “has a responsibility to ensure that the schools should only open with optimal circumstances in place for success,” a letter sent to educators and the media stated.
Due to the lack of resources, the union says, it does not feel that it can sign off on CCSD’s current proposal which calls for a mix of in-person and online learning. Students would be divided into three cohorts: two following the blended model and the third only doing distance education. The CCSD Board of Trustees is scheduled to vote on the proposed reopening plan Thursday night.
CCEA is calling on Gov. Sisolak to address the “key issues with resources in reopening the Clark County School District” at Wednesday’s Special Session in Carson City.
The July 8 session will address the state’s budget shortfall, which occurred when businesses were closed as COVID-19 cases began to affect Nevada.
Teachers, parents and other education advocacies are worried that the governor will make cuts to Nevada’s public education as lawmakers grapple with the budget shortage. The Clark County School District is facing a nearly $38 million budget decrease for the 2020-21 school year.
On Tuesday, a letter signed by parents and education advocacy groups, as well as the teachers’ union, was sent to Gov. Sisolak and legislative leaders urging them to keep all education dollars in place, despite budget shortfalls.
Below is the full letter sent to educators on Tuesday:
CCEA believes that the Governor of Nevada has a responsibility to ensure that the schools should only open with optimal circumstances in place for success. Governor’s Sisolak’s plan to cut Nevada public education at this point of time will be devastating to students; more so for the 320,000 students in Clark County School District, the fifth largest school district in the country.
CCSD’s plan to re-open the schools is based on a directive from the Governor and the Department of Education. It is a plan that has raised many concerns and justified criticism. It is also a plan that relies on more resources, not less. And those resources are not provided.
We believe the reopening of the schools in Nevada is a State issue not an issue to be punted to the local and underfunded school districts. It is the State that is the principal source of resources. And it is resources that are critical to make any reopening plan successful.
Accordingly, unless the Governor addresses the key issues with resources in reopening the Clark County School District in this upcoming Special Session, CCEA cannot sign off on CCSD’s current plan as it stands and will support every educator and parent who chooses not to participate in the reopening of CCSD.
We believe a reopening plan should have three key components: Safety, Choice, and Resources.
Safety: There has been a safety program developed that has been presented to Governor Sisolak that addresses a robust and effective safety program maintaining safety and that can be paid for with Federal dollars through the CARES ACT. This plan requires testing of all 40,000 CCSD employees upon reentry into the schools. Those who are tested positive are quarantined until they test negative. Contact tracing will take place when a positive case emerges on a campus, school building or classroom. There will be ongoing testing throughout the school year. There will be protective personal equipment (e.g., masks) and other pieces afforded to everyone. There will be a thorough sanitization and cleaning program in every building, classroom, school bus, etc. There will be a special program that segments out staff with high risk health factors to ensure they are safe from exposure. The total cost of this program is approximately $14 million- and the State has federal money to pay for it.
Choice: There should be a five day school schedule. Every parent should have a choice to have their child do distance learning five days a week or be in a classroom five days a week. Every educator should have a choice to either teach in a classroom five days a week or do distance learning five days a week.
Resources: Governor Sisolak needs to fund our school system properly. You cannot have schools open without a safety program. That requires money. You cannot have students in classrooms and cut back class size reduction money and the elimination of vital instructional programs, and cuts in school safety. That requires rescinding the cuts. And you cannot have distance learning when over 100,000 students in CCSD do not have connectivity nor devises. That requires additional funding. And without those resources Distance Learning is a false choice.CCEA