The Washoe County School District is still coming up with a plan for the rest of the school year as new guidance from the state allows for more students in classrooms and on school buses.
The district is figuring out how to navigate a loosening of restrictions outlined by Gov. Steve Sisolak earlier this month.
In addition to an increase of occupants in restaurants and churches, Sisolak now is allowing for 66 percent occupancy on school buses and up to 75 percent occupancy in classrooms based on fire codes.
Previously the restrictions allowed for 50 percent occupancy in classrooms and students on buses had to remain 6 feet apart.
At a school board meeting Tuesday, the district laid out how complicated it would be to change the district’s current plan, which has elementary schools in person and middle and high schools on a hybrid plan with students attending in-person instruction every other day.
School board trustees asked Superintendent Kristen McNeill to consider options that would allow seniors to have every opportunity to participate more in school, including possibly attending in person, for the rest of the school year.
“It allowed the board to see what a master schedule looks like at a high school and is very, very complex,” McNeill said about giving the board information about how changing schedules now could have a ripple effect.
The district is meeting with principals next week to discuss what the loosening of restrictions could mean for schools and students, and McNeill will recommend to the school board a plan for the rest of the school year at the March 9 board meeting.
McNeill did say that the increased occupancy on buses would immediately allow for the transportation of more elementary students at a time to reduce some drivers having to make double runs. Currently only one student is allowed per seat. The new recommendation would allow for two.
She also said the district will reopen elementary school playgrounds next week.
“Students may now use playground structures before school, during recess, and after school,” the district said in a statement Friday. “School administration will work with supervising teachers to ensure the use of playground structures is well managed and supervised including adhering to social distancing requirements of 3 feet. Students may access playground structures beginning March 1.”
McNeill said on Friday morning that athletic plans and schedules are still being worked on including plans for spectators in gyms and fields.
“It is extremely complicated because it has to go field by field and gym by gym,” McNeill said.
High school volleyball and football games start next Wednesday.
McNeill said factors include figuring out players, cheer teams and students in school band programs.
But she said it’s good news for students who are looking to resume participating in activities outside of the classroom.
“Super excited about activities opening whether that is in the athletic realm, or in the theater, band. (We are) trying to give as many opportunities as possible,” McNeill said.
“We want to make sure it is done safely and under the governor’s directives.
Siobhan McAndrew tells stories about the people of Northern Nevada and covers education in Washoe County. Read her journalism right here. Consider supporting her work by subscribing to the Reno Gazette Journal.