Learning guidance

Charter school authority likely won’t change in-person learning guidance

A recommendation to change the Nevada State Public Charter School Authority’s distance learning mandate, which allows some in-person classes, is unlikely despite a statewide drop in COVID-19 cases, a said the authority’s executive director on Friday.

The authority’s board met virtually on Friday to hear updates related to the coronavirus. The board is meeting again at 9 a.m. this Friday and could take action on whether to make any changes.

Some public charter schools in the Las Vegas area have moved from a hybrid model, a mix of in-person and distance learning, to 100% distance learning last week after the Thanksgiving break. Decisions were made by each school board.

“There are a variety of decisions being made at school sites,” charter authority executive director Rebecca Feiden said, adding that she thinks the schools were methodical and careful in their decision-making.

Feiden said she doesn’t currently expect to recommend any changes to the in-person learning guidance for consideration at this week’s meeting, but she thinks it’s important to have an action point.

Following Gov. Steve Sisolak’s “Stay Home 2.0” recommendation and last month’s announcement of a three-week statewide pause, Charter Authority staff members have “urged repeatedly schools to exercise caution with in-person learning due to increasing test positivity and case rates across the state,” according to documents from Friday’s meeting. “As a result, many schools have reduced the scale of in-person learning or temporarily returned to full distance learning.”

In August, the authority’s board approved a distance education mandate, saying schools in counties with high levels of COVID-19 transmission could provide in-person instruction to up to 25 % of their students.

Last month, the board further relaxed the requirement, allowing schools to bring up to 40 percent of their students on campus at any given time.

Many public charter schools in the Las Vegas area have started the school year with 100% distance learning, but have begun bringing in a limited number of students on campus in October as part of a hybrid model – either with half-day sessions or alternating days when students attend in-person classes.

After two meetings this month, the charter board is not expected to meet again until January 22. But Feiden said an emergency meeting could be held in late December or early January, if needed.

All of the public comments written for Friday’s meeting advocated a full-time return to in-person classes.

So far this school year, the charter authority has been notified of 200 students or employees who have tested positive for COVID-19. This led to more than 600 students and employees being identified as close contacts and banned from school.

During its meeting, the board also:

– Approved the acquisition of the Aliante and Skye Canyon campuses of Somerset Academy Las Vegas.

Somerset partnered with the Turner-Agassi Charter School Facilities Fund to build the two campuses and currently leases them.

In the first five years after acquiring the buildings, Somerset will achieve estimated savings of $1.25 million for the Aliante campus and $1 million for the Skye Canyon campus.

– Approved an application for Sports Leadership and Management Academy in Henderson to implement a dual credit program for eligible high school students through the College of Southern Nevada.

Contact Julie Wootton-Greener at jgreener@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2921. To follow @julieswootton on Twitter.