LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Some classrooms across the Clark County School District saw several empty seats on this first day back from winter break. There is concern from parents and staff about the increasing COVID-19 rates and the Omicron variant.
Kids were playing at Schorr Elementary School getting a chance to learn with their teachers looking over. But not all teachers were back in the building after winter break.
“People are currently in the classroom learning and educating and here I sit at home, looking in from the outside.”
Kristan Nigro is a kindergarten teacher at the school. She stayed at home while recovering from COVID-19 with mild symptoms. Nigro estimates more than a dozen staff members at the school were absent for the first day back, stretching the school thin amid omicron concerns.
“We don’t have any substitutes available, no guest teachers, and the ones we do have are in long-term positions or maybe they’re not comfortable enough going into a classroom right now,” she said.
Second-grade teacher Vicki Kreidel says there were no issues at Heard Elementary School with only a normal amount of student absences. She does say the more than 800 current vacancies in CCSD aren’t helping.
“We’re not going to be able to replace all of those people in the middle of a school year. It’s almost impossible.”
For some, the first day back went as good as hoped.
“Transportation was on time. Schools were open and I have not gotten a phone call.”
Anna Binder says there weren’t any issues for her kids attending various CCSD schools in the southeast. While she feels fortunate so far, Binder says parents should be prepared for anything with the omicron variant potentially affecting schools.
“I think we always have to be flexible, and as much as I don’t support school closures, if we were looking at mass outbreaks, that’s something we have to brace for,’ 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 the 2021-22 school year which was 1,396 absences.
The district does make it clear the teacher absences include maternity leave or using vacation time, not just sick-related reasons. Teachers are imploring parents to not send their kids to school if they are showing symptoms or are sick and to communicate with them to ensure their education is not interrupted.