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Parents turn to microschooling as distance learning begins in Clark County

Posted at 5:18 AM, Aug 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-24 08:54:42-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Patricia Farley is a single mother of four children, and she works full time running her business.

On the first day of school in the Clark County School District, Farley's kids, like many others, won't be attending school in person because of the coronavirus pandemic placing a strain on her daily agenda and her kids' education.

INTERVIEW: CCSD Supt. Jara discusses connectivity, students missing Chromebooks

"I've been working very hard over the last 15 years with my kids to get them educated," she says, "it's the one gift I can give them, that nobody can take away from them."

Facing the heavy burden, Farley decided to do something novel for her family and several others in her Las Vegas neighborhood.

She turned to microschooling.

Farley and a handful of other parents have hired a private teacher to guide a small group of area kids through distance education.

"It put me back in charge of my kid's education," she said.

RELATED: 20,000 Clark County School District students are still without devices, internet access

Microschooling isn't common in Nevada, but it can be a flexible system for parents with little time and resources required for the "new normal" of distance education established to stem the spread of COVID-19.

Don Soifer, president of Nevada Action for School Options, a group that advocates for alternative schooling options in Nevada.

"Microschooling is a movement that's been taking hold nationally," he says.

Soifer says microschooling can take several forms from an informal group of parents trading times guiding neighborhood kids through distance education to hiring private educators all the way up to paid programs.

RELATED: Connectivity issues might impact local students

"You can design a program that really does meet those kids where they are, and service the needs of those families," he says.

One paid program established to fill the gaps created by distance learning was championed by North Las Vegas City Councilwoman Pamela Goynes-Brown.

She and a team at the City of North Las Vegas call it the Southern Nevada Urban Micro Academy, or SNUMA.

"We needed to have an option for our families," Goynes-Brown says.

SNUMA offers guided education to small groups of children at multiple price ranges to cater to Goynes-Brown's often lower-income constituents.

"We want to make sure we reach out to those families to make sure, we want to close the educational gap," she said.

Goynes-Brown says anyone interested in the SNUMA website to register and get more information.

Soifer says Nevada Action for School Options is always available to answer questions and give parents options that could suit them by visiting their website.