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CCSD superintendent speaks on graduation, school closures

One-on-one interview with Dr. Jesus Jara
Posted at 4:34 PM, Apr 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-19 00:08:34-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Schools are closed. Graduation is on hold. Parents and CCSD teachers have a lot of questions as we head into the final month of schooling.

Closed school campuses mark the current reality of education during the coronavirus pandemic. When will CCSD schools reopen remains a question. Superintendent Dr. Jesus Jara says if schools come back, there are challenges to overcome.

“The staffing, the ability to get staff to come back and our students with social distancing,” he said.

Jara says he’s been in contact with various state officials including the governor’s office and the state superintendent for any signal reopening would be possible. He says in the short-term the closures remain.

“We don’t see how we can open school, brick and mortar buildings to bring everybody back by May 1,” Jara said.

Graduation plans were also on the mind of Dr. Jara. He met with student body presidents from the district’s high schools this week and heard one clear consensus.

“What they really said. No virtual graduation. They want to see their classmates. They want to walk across the stage together,” he said.

Jara says he respects the views of students and is working with principals with that in mind for a possible event in the summer.

Mensaje de CCSD sobre las Ceremonias de Graduación para la Clase de 2020. pic.twitter.com/G1pVJOTyv1

— CCSD (@ClarkCountySch) April 18, 2020

“Is it August? Is it July? When? So, we’re trying to figure all of this out and come up with a decision,” he said.

With online learning the current reality for CCSD students, they’re going through changes on how they’re graded. For example, for middle and high schoolers, they will now be able to improve their third quarter grades something that would not have been done in a normal situation.

RELATED STORY: CCSD graduation plans a work in progress

“That is a way for us to put some parameters to protect our students,” he said.

How that directive is being pursued has differed from school to school. Dr. Jara says he wants teachers to develop their process to fit the unique needs of their students.

“Our teachers have the flexibility to grade per school, per class,” he said.

Any new concepts that are taught during this period are not mandatory. Instead there’s a focus on reviewing past material. It’s led some parents to fear their children might not be learning anything new.

PREVIOUS STORY: Educators address issues with CCSD distance learning

Jara says he doesn’t want to impose a grading policy when individual student needs are still being addressed. Many children don’t have the technology to connect with their teachers to continue learning.

“This pandemic has really put a magnifying glass on inequities for our most vulnerable children,” Jara said.

With every child missing out on learning new material in the fourth quarter, Jara says the district will be addressing this.

“Here’s where you are today and then how do we embed the standards that you’ve missed within the academic year. That’s the conversation we’re having,” he said.

Schools remain closed until April 30.