CCSD Board of Trustees confirm students will not return to school in October Members discuss operations, distance learning affected by COVID-19 concerns

While discussing agenda item 5.03, several board members were disconnected from the Google Meet. The meeting was delayed for forty minutes until a new one was streamed promptly. “Just like we had this evening, a challenge with the Google platform … I get these calls, emails, and text messages from teachers, parents, and students that this happens to them rather frequently,” CCSD District C Trustee Linda Young said.

A virtual board meeting on September 24th confirmed that students will not be attending school physically during October. CCSD Superintendent Jesus Jara shared with the CCSD Board of Trustees a 30-day update relating to the COVID-19 impact in Southern Nevada.

“The board voted July 21st, when they adopted the improvisational plan that we submitted to the Department of Education that we would bring an update 30 days in, and that’s exactly what we’re doing. We’re not making any recommendations from my office to the board to open school October 3 in any capacity,” Jara said. “Is it perfect? Absolutely not. But, I want the board and the community to know that a system as big as we are, going from face-to-face to distance-education, as much as we tried to support our teachers, who are in some cases facing a lot of anxiety because of the workload that has changed. We have tried and our principals and our teachers are doing amazing work.”

The main point discussed during the presentation was the increase of COVID-19 cases spreading in Southern Nevada. According to Dr. Fermin Leguen, acting district health officer for the Southern Nevada Health District, from Sept. 13-17, 85 children between the ages of 5-17 were infected in Clark County.

“Children and young people in general, most of them affected by the disease usually develop a mild presentation,” Leguen said. “Most of them will present signs and symptoms of the disease, but it will go away easily. But you have a number of children who died, and we have those numbers here in the country.” 

While discussing CCSD’s response to COVID-19, Leguen was cut off due to technical problems and the meeting was postponed for nearly 40 minutes. Google released a statement regarding the technical problems.

“We’re aware of a problem with Google Meet affecting a significant subset of users,” a Google spokesperson said. “The affected users are able to access Google Meet, but are seeing error messages, high latency, and/or other unexpected behavior.”

Several efforts were discussed by the CCSD Operations Department to sustain distance learning for students who have restricted access to technology, such as distribution to students without easy access to technology, hotlines for assistance and new tools for Canvas

“These resources have been essential for providing a pathway for our most in-need students to get access to internet connectivity, as well as making contact with those families who haven’t yet responded to CCSD’s technology survey,” Chief Operations Officer Mike Casey said.

New security programs have been implemented as a solution to several safety and security issues related to device problems and a full reliance on technology.

GoGuardian is a great solution as we transition to a full distance education environment,” Casey said. “Our primary focus from operations was on the product’s content filtering and theft recovering features, however the tool has proven to be a most powerful classroom management tool.”

Monica Cortez, interim assistant superintendent for the Student Services Division, discussed the plans being implemented to support special education students who typically need physical assistance with learning.

“Our amazing educators are working on providing synchronous and asynchronous instruction based on individual student’s goals and standards,” Cortez said. “Individual education program revisions without a meeting are being conducted with the families … This will provide specialized designed instruction, and a distance education structure.”

Another point of discussion was the shortage of staff members, such as teachers, during distance learning and how to effectively train staff.

“[Staff and administration] is not something that can’t be inconsistent or is brushed under the rug, or is sporadic,” CCSD District G Trustee Linda Cavazos said. “We need to have a consistent pipeline working all the time, not just something that is sporadic,” 

At the end of the presentation, CCSD District C Trustee Linda Young explained the importance of discussing this topic and how the community can support each other during the pandemic.

“We can help the state department and others know we’re doing the very best we can, and let the teachers know we’re doing the very best we can so they don’t feel the stress. You know, there’s a lot of stress out there,” Young said. “We know we’re all under pressure, you’re all under pressure as well. I don’t know how to go about saying it, but yes, we recognize, do your very best and try not to stress over it. Give it your best shot.”

Do you agree with CCSD’s decision to continue with full distance-learning?