LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — The kids are back in school after a five-day “pause." The Clark County School District made the moveto address staffing shortages and to stop the spread of the COVID-19. But was the “pause” a success?
“I look at these other 19 kids as my own and I love them like they’re my own, and so it’s really good to be back in the classroom with them," said Kristan Nigro, a teacher at Steve Schorr Elementary School.
We last spoke with Nigro when she was unable to return to class on the first day back from winter break while recovering from the coronavirus. Then, she was one of about 13 staff members at Schorr Elementary who were not on campus. On Wednesday, that number was about eight.
“Not as bad as it was, but that’s pretty significant when you’re talking about staffing at an elementary school," Nigro said.
District officials say the pause allowed CCSD to clear more than 1,000 employees to return to work, addressing a backlog on the Emocha health app. The health company told 13 Action News they’ve seen far fewer calls Wednesday. CCSD says it’s committed to keeping kids in the classroom.
“If we continue moving forward cautiously, looking at our indicators that we’ve been looking at and the communications lines open with our families and our staff, we’ll be continuing in the right direction to keep in-person learning,” said CCSD assistant superintendent Dr. Monica Cortez.
Nigro says it’s a good time to remind her kindergarteners about staying safe right now.
“We’re just really cognizant and very aware about maintaining distance in between and making sure our masks are on,” she said.
Nigro hopes this pause will be a small bump for the rest of the school year.
“I’m really happy to be back here, because the last thing I want to do is go back to virtual learning. I don’t want that to happen,” she said.
#CCSD says the student attendance rate for Jan. 5 was 83%, which is lower than the school year average of 90%. Staff absences numbered 1,643 absences on Jan. 5, higher than the average for 2021-22 school year which was 1,396 absences. @KTNV https://t.co/3mvHLqMq9Q— Jeremy Chen (@JeremyChenKTNV) January 6, 2022
CCSD’s five-day pause made for a big pivot for David Gomez and his kids.
“It was orchestrating time and making sure that we had babysitters when we had to go to work or someone to help us out,” he said.
Gomez says the first day back went smoothly for them, but he is worried about the potential for another pause.
“You can’t control the inevitable, and that’s the coronavirus, and if more teachers get sick and more substitutes get sick and then we don’t have enough people at that,” he said.
CCSD officials say the pause did help address staffing shortages and a decision on another pause would come down to monitoring several metrics.
“How is our staff employment looking like every day? We’ll look at what is our absenteeism? Is it something that is able to be corrected by additional central office going out to the schools?” Cortez said.
Rancho High School teacher Rueben D’Silva says the pause worked at his school with people coming back. It’s good news, but he’s also keeping plans for virtual in the back of his mind.
“We can’t make long-term plans. We have to prepare for the worst,” he said.
CCSD has two more contingency days this year in case there are further disruptions. D’Silva says it’s a way to ensure in-person learning continues.
“Very happy to see that we planned for those. We had to, and those contingency days can be very handy,” he said.
CCSD says its committed to keeping kids in school.
“We know the best opportunity for our students is the in-person instruction, so we are doing everything in our power to continue doing that,” Cortez said.
Gomez wants the district’s leaders to keep their word.
“If the top says let’s keep going and keep pushing through it, then it will happen, and I have hope for that,” he said.
District officials weren’t able to give out attendance numbers for employees or students at the time of this report but said they would have a number later this week.