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CCSD Supt. Jara sets firm date for hybrid transition, says it will help vaccine prioritization

These are photos of the Clark County School Board District headquarters located at Decatur and Jones as seen July 21, 2020
Posted at 5:32 PM, Jan 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-28 22:13:43-05

CLARK COUNTY (KTNV) — Plans are in the works to get the youngest Clark County School District kids back into classrooms.

CCSD previously announced Pre-K to third-grade students would return on March 1 under a hybrid method and now Supt. Dr. Jesus Jara says it's a firm date.

WATCH FULL | CCSD discusses transition to hybrid instructional model

"We needed to put that firm date out so we can move forward for our educators and prioritize for the vaccine," he said during a meeting Thursday morning.

Gov. Steve Sisolak weighed as well, saying on Twitter that he "asks everyone to continue these efforts and develop future plans for more grades to return in a safe manner."

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"The state will continue to assist in any way possible," said Gov. Sisolak. "The health and safety of students, educators, staff and families remain the priority. I will work with [the Nevada superintendent of public instruction] and [Supt. Jara] to devote every resource possible to meet this goal."

Supt. Jara says Pre-K to third-grade teachers, support staff and bus drivers are being prioritized to get the vaccine.

"We're working with UNLV in sharing the information so they can make their individual appointments," he said. "So when they show up, they have the school and some of the logistics. They're working in that direction."

RELATED: COVID-19 vaccine registration now open to CCSD, charter school employees

Supt. Jara says elementary school principals were told on Wednesday about the reopening plans and says they needed a few weeks to prepare.

"We'll be able to do master schedules for our school bus routes," he said. "And it will give us enough time to bring our educators back Feb. 22, five days before our kids report."

Supt. Jara says older kids are able to return to classrooms in small groups but there are no plans yet to bring them all back on a hybrid model.

For now, he says the focus remains on this current plan.

"I hope that we can get back and start bringing in more kids, but the first thing in our priority is to make sure this happens."

Some teachers don’t feel ready yet.

“Teachers are not going to be vaccinated in time, because our county is struggling with that," said Nicole Hess, a kindergarten teacher. She plans to continue teaching virtually and wants parents to know, the in-class experience won’t be the same.

“Is me sitting at a table, talking to half my students on the camera while the other half watch me on their computers sitting six feet apart,” she said.

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She feels the plan was rushed and doesn’t feel the timing is right.

“So, it’s going to be like the beginning of the school year all over again and getting acclimated and then the school year is done, so it doesn’t make sense at all,” she said.

Erin Dressler, an elementary school music teacher, feels social distancing requirements could make learning difficult for kids in the classroom.

“It will resemble a jail for our kids. They’re stuck in our seats. They’re unable to move. We’re all going to miss out on the things students love,” she said.

However, some teachers say they’re comfortable enough to come back and understand the risks.

The Clark County Education Association, a union that represents teachers, says its survey shows 70% of its educators would come back. Supt. Jara says he’s confident there will be enough teachers to support hybrid learning.

“The information we received from CCEA is that a lot of teachers want to come back and we are confident that we will deliver,” he said.

Hess says she would have preferred the district to make plans for next fall instead.

“I think next fall would be a much better option because all of the teachers who would like to get vaccinated will have the opportunity to,” she said.