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Schools explore opening options

Nevada National Guardsmen await the opening of a community coronavirus testing clinic at Douglas High School in Minden. School officials are exploring their options for reopening next month.
Kurt Hildebrand

While most Douglas County school parents would prefer their children returned to a regular school day, most also support putting in place some sort of safeguards against the coronavirus.

Over the past two weeks, school district polled parents about reopening school next month.

According to poll results released on Monday, 63 percent of 3,186 participants said they wanted their children back to regular school days and schedules.

Only 27 percent said they would prefer a combination of in-person and distance learning, and 9 percent said they preferred distance learning.

The survey revealed 30 percent of 2,720 parents had no concerns about children returning to school, while 35 percent said they were comfortable with the school district’s safeguards.

A quarter of parents sought more specific rules for returning to school, including social distancing, face coverings and temperature checks. Three percent said they won’t allow their children back in school until there is a vaccine.

Of the 466 district staff members, 35 percent said they would return under whatever safeguards the district put in place while 18 percent said they had no concerns.

Fully 26 percent of staff members said they would prefer the district enforced social distancing, mask-wearing and temperature checks.

Only 2 percent of parents surveyed said they didn’t plan on having their children return to school, while 17 percent said their plans depend on what the school district does.

In a letter on reopening, Superintendent Keith Lewis said the school board is scheduled to meet July 21 where he plans to offer the district’s reopening plan.

Under a directive from the governor, the district must prepare three plans, including in-person, distance or a combination.

“At the same time, we must ensure that occupancy of our schools and district transportation not exceed the lesser of 50 percent occupancy or 50 persons in an appropriately sized space that enables all social distancing requirements to be satisfied.”

Lewis said the plans must be shared with the public at least 20 days before the first day of school, which is Aug. 10 in Carson Valley and Aug. 24 at Lake Tahoe.

“I want to be clear that I do not believe it is in the best interest of our students, staff and families to keep our schools closed completely to in-person instruction,” Lewis said. “I recognize the incredible hardship full distance education placed on students placed on students and families these past several months.”

Lewis said that if it were up to him, he would reopen the schools for all students, but increased precautions to minimize the risk to students and staff.