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Students attend school in-person and online

A school bus drops off students at ASPIRE Academy on Tuesday, which was the second first day of school in Douglas County.
Kurt Hildebrand

On Wednesday, students began classes at Douglas County’s newest and second largest school.

Douglas Nevada Online is up to around 1,000 students, which makes it second only to Douglas High School in enrollment.

Unlike the other first two days of school this week, students won’t be getting into buses to attend the online school, nor will they have to wear masks, and the cafeteria is open all day.

“We’re just under 1,000 students and they’re still trickling in,” Superintendent Keith Lewis said on Tuesday. Total Douglas student enrollment was 5,449 as of Aug. 6.

Lewis said things went well the first two days of school.

“There were a few hiccups but not a ton of them, and definitely things we can solve,” he said.

In order to obey state distancing rules, the district has gone to a one-day-at-school, one-day-at-home schedule.

“My boys are on the second schedule but I had to tell them that Monday was still a workday,” Lewis said.

Kindergarteners through second-grade students attended class in-person across the district.

A plan to set up plastic barriers between student desks was approved by the state and the materials are on order, Lewis said.

Third-graders at Meneley and Jacks Valley will start on Tuesday, while fourth- and fifth-graders will return to full-time school after Labor Day.

In Carson Valley, the elementary schools go through fifth-grade. Middle and high school students are attending school in a hybrid in-person and distance learning model.

That distance learning is different from the online school.

Lake Tahoe schools open on Aug. 31.

Lewis said there hasn’t been a problem with transporting students to school

Feeding Douglas High students has been a challenge after the state denied a variance that would have allowed more than 50 students in the cafeteria at a time.

“Right now it’s not a problem because we can funnel them outside,” he said. “We’re using the gym and every nook and cranny for overflow.”

“I’m proud of our teachers and all of our staff,” Lewis said. “It was a great effort both days to get kids in and teach them. I visited every school and the kids were great. I’m very pleased.”

While 2020 has required some adjustments, one school tradition is continuing.

Project School Days has been collecting donations to help supply teachers for the coming school year.

The group has added facemasks along with pencils, composition books, backpacks and calculators that they provide to students.

“A generous community makes this project possible by donating money that is used to purchase supplies or by collecting and donating school supplies,” Steering Committee member Doris Betts said. “All the materials are donated to children in Douglas County schools, China Spring, Aurora Pines, CASA, Jacobsen High and Austin’s House.”

Betts said that while most of the distribution occurs in September, teachers may request supplies through the year.

Project School Days is a nonprofit, volunteer organization and contributions are tax deductible.

Checks may be mailed to Project School Days, P.O. Box 899, Minden, Nevada 89423. The group’s federal ID number is 88-0393599.