LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — The Back on Track Act, SB 173, has been introduced in the 2021 Nevada Legislature and would attempt to address continued learning loss caused by distance learning and the coronavirus pandemic.
The bill, if passed, would establish guidelines for summer schooling across the state and use federal funding from the American Rescue Plan to fund schooling for all kids in K-12 education.
Primary sponsor Sen. Marilyn Dondero Loop says she personally knows the impacts distance learning has had on children.
"I have five school-age grandchildren, so I'm actually living it in real-time," she said.
Dondero Loop says many children couldn't cope with the sudden shift to distance learning, and many parents were overwhelmed by the burden of assisting multiple kids with their education.
"They need help and the parents are running between them or the fourth-grader decides to get up and get a cheese stick in the middle of math," she said. "You know, these things really happen."
SB 173 would use federal dollars from the American Rescue Plan, $1.1 billion of which has been earmarked for Nevada schools, to hire teachers and staff to conduct summer school, request districts submit plans to Nevada Supt. Jhone Ebert for approval, regulate summer school conduct and hiring practices, expand summer school to all students K-12, and make the schooling free to parents.
Dondero Loop says making summer school free was important citing a McKinsey & Company study showing that lower-income and minority communities have been disproportionately affected by learning loss during the pandemic.
She also says some kids may have lost as many as 12 months of learning.
Ebert testified in support of the bill in front of the Senate Committee on Education saying state lawmakers need to step up for vulnerable populations, and they have the federal resources to do it.
"Every child that's willing to work hard will have our unwavering support," Ebert said. "So they can graduate with the tools they need to build a home, a life, and a future."
SB 173 has been targeted directly at the impact of the pandemic so its provisions would expire in December 2021 if passed and signed by Gov. Steve Sisolak.