Lawmakers address student suicide, introduce bill requiring districts to have pandemic plan

Local News

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Nevada lawmakers are back to work, turning their focus to priorities like the budget, pandemic and our schools.

One key area is education, specifically keeping students safe and healthy while learning from home. Since the start of the pandemic, 20 Clark County School District (CCSD) students have died by suicide.

Educators and lawmakers point to that connection between students and teachers that’s missing with online learning.

“They’re going to have interactions with teachers. Teachers are mandatory reporters; they see what’s going on,” said State Sen. Scott Hammond. “They ask questions. They can see if something is troubling a student, if something has changed in their lives.”

He sits on the education committee. He’s taught high school for 15 years.

“As a former teacher, as a parent, it’s really hard to listen to those stories and not feel for them,” Hammond said.

It’s a bipartisan issue, with Senate Democrats echoing those feelings.

“It’s isolating being at home, and you’re by yourself,” said State Sen. Roberta Lange. “And making it safe so our kids can get back to school is really paramount.”

A new law to be debated this session would require school districts to have a pandemic plan. The Department of Education is asking the Senate to take this up, keeping tabs on students if we get into this situation again.

“Just as we didn’t know when this was going to happen, we don’t know if another one will happen — a pandemic, epidemic, and I think we need to be prepared,” said State Sen. Marilyn Dondero Loop.

One thing lawmakers will also look at is consistency at districts across Nevada. They want to see if there’s any trend between students who had access to in-person learning and those who didn’t.

If you or someone you know is in crisis or needs to talk, you can call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The number is 1-800-273-8255. Help is available any time in both English and Spanish.

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