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Clark County schools facing social distance questions with large class sizes

Posted at 5:09 PM, Apr 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-01 02:50:53-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Large class sizes and overcrowding have been big issues facing Clark County School District schools, and questions are being raised on how to socially distance when students are allowed back in the classroom.

Whenever students return to campus at CCSD schools, they’ll likely have to practice social distancing. Class sizes remain an ongoing issue across the district, making it difficult to keep six feet apart in the classroom.

“Maybe a total of 12 to 18 desks total would fit in my room,” said Jeremiah Riesenbeck, a social studies teacher at Centennial High School.

He’s wondering how this would all work when classrooms are reopened, as new CDC guidelines advise schools to space desks six feet apart.

“Are we going to do like how we used to have half-day kindergarten, will it be for all grades? Will we have a.m. classes and p.m. classes and the rest of the day they do online or virtual work?” he said.

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A 2018 study by the National Education Association shows Nevada had the largest class sizes in the nation, at about 26 students to one teacher. At CCSD middle and high schools, the number ranges from 33 to 36 students for every one teacher.

“The element of social distancing, that’s a challenge I don’t think anybody has yet figured out. You’re literally going to have to take kids out of a classroom and reduce the classroom,” John Vellardita, CCEA executive director, said.

He says crowded classrooms harm student learning.

“It adversely impacts the educational experience and achievements of those students in that class,” Vellardita said.

Second-grade teacher Vicki Kriedel says she’s fortunate to only have 18 students in her class at Heard Elementary School. She believes a staggered schedule may be a possible solution.

“If we had a staggering learning day, say I have half my normal class with nine kids in my classroom. Could I socially distance them? Yes,” Kriedel said.

13 Action News did reach out to CCSD, and they deferred to statements made by Superintendent Jesus Jara at last week’s school board meeting about creating a committee to address such issues like this.