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Washoe County School District confident in safely resuming school in August if COVID under control

Published: Jul. 8, 2020 at 7:52 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - On Tuesday, the Washoe County School District’s board of trustees met for roughly 10 hours, ending with the approval of a return-to-school plan for 2020 with strict procedures and protocols shaped by the Coronavirus pandemic.

Tami Zimmerman, the district’s Deputy Facilities Management Officer, is comfortable with her kids attending school and hopes the area’s families will feel the same.

“We are very confident we’ll have all those measures in place for kids and staff to come back to school, said Zimmerman. “And we’ll have a clean environment for everyone to come back to.”

Zimmerman cites cleaning customs already in place for influenza and other viruses. Those tactics will rise in strength with COVID-19 still a major concern. Sanitation supplies will be readily available for students and staff and they’ll also bring in additional custodial staff to each school.

“To get those high-touch areas: Door handles, sinks, toilet partitions,” Zimmerman adds. “We’ll really be diligent about that.”

Teachers will also get five additional days of training, a good portion spent on cleaning regulations. Grades 1-12 are scheduled to start school on August 17th, with Pre-K and Kindergarten the following Monday, August 24th.

“The district has promised us a lot of training,” said Eric McCuskey, who will enter his 20th year teaching chemistry at North Valleys High School. “I kind of wish it was right now, so I could better prep myself.”

Middle and high schools are planning to run at 50% capacity, with students on a ‘hybrid’ model - half in-person and half distance learning. McCuskey sees a potential logistical nightmare.

”I feel for our counselors, because they’ll probably have to hand schedule every kid,” he added.

The curriculum will also have to be flexible, but still effective.

“Teachers are famous for complaining we don’t have enough time to cover everything we need to cover,” said McCuskey. “That becomes a factor fairly quick.”

Middle and high school students have the option of not returning to campus in 2020-21. Zimmerman, who has a daughter entering her senior year, thinks many will still want to be there and feel a sense of normalcy.

“I think we’ll see a lot of students who want to come back and do come back to school,” she said. “For those who don’t there’s options for them.”

All parties involve acknowledge the fluidity of the situation, and that it’s the Coronavirus ultimately calling the shots.

”We’ve steadily trended up,” McCuskey noted. “If we keep trending up, who knows what’s going to happen?”

The Washoe County School District’s plan for reopening still has to be approved by the Nevada State Board of Education.

Copyright 2020 KOLO. All rights reserved.

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