The Carson City School District School Board of Trustees has voted unanimously to offer in-person, on-campus instruction to all seventh and eighth graders, four days a week, Tuesdays through Fridays. The first official day of this more traditional education model will begin at the start of the final fourth quarter, Tuesday, March 23rd. The district had already announced a return to four-days-per-week, in-person learning for 3rd to 6th grade students Jan. 19, 2021 and all Pre-K to 2nd graders Oct. 20, 2020.
“Students and families currently enrolled in the full-remote model at any school will continue to have the option to remain in the full-remote model if they choose,” said Richard Stokes, superintendent for the Carson City School District. “Hybrid students not interested in attending 4-days per week may elect to transition to full-remote learning. Further adjustments to school operations may be made if additional restrictions are removed.”
With the addition of 7th and 8th grade students returning to school in-person four-days per week, the district reminds all students (at all grade levels) throughout the Carson City School District, Mondays will remain remote learning days. Students, both full-remote and in-seat, will check in with their homeroom teachers electronically and work independently throughout the school day. The wearing of face masks and maintaining social distancing between students is still expected.
Bus capacity increased to 66% occupancy, but the school board and district administrators continue to invite parents and families to help the buses maintain that percentage by making their best effort to get their child to and from school by their own means. Athletic equipment such as balls will also be permissible during recess at elementary school levels beginning March 23.
The school board also decided that all Carson High School (CHS) students in grades ninth through twelfth will remain in their assigned cohort groups and will continue to receive instruction via the hybrid-blended learning model through the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year.
Pioneer High School, the district’s alternative high school, has been fully operational, four-days-per-week since January 19, 2021. And CHS previously invited more than 200 remote learning students, who were struggling academically, back to in-person learning within the hybrid model at the beginning of the second semester, also on January 19, 2021.
The topic of returning more students to CHS, however, posed the most difficult challenge to modify, given the Governor’s new guidance, Stokes said during the board meeting. Increasing the occupancy rates to 75% doesn’t help operational conditions at CHS at all.
“At CHS, the real challenge is being able to increase the number of students in classrooms,” Stokes continued. “Even with the reduced social distancing measurements from 6 feet to 3 feet, the school would have to reschedule approximately 500 students and modify the academic daily schedule in order to bring back all of the Hybrid Model students on a daily basis. Additionally, there are 176 classes at CHS that would have 25 or more students in classrooms if we were to combine cohorts. The challenge of modifying the schedule is exacerbated by the varying sizes of the classrooms at CHS.”
The fundamental question in all of this, Stokes advised, is whether the major upheaval required is worth the addition of 18 extra in-person school days (four-days per week) or 25 extra in-person school days (five-days per week) instead of staying with the existing Hybrid model.
“Re-scheduling at least 500 students at CHS would require students who have become accustomed to the operations, methods and processes of a teacher over three-quarters of the school year to ‘start over’ with a new teacher and new classmates,” Stokes said. “While doable, a change of this magnitude would be a significant upheaval. In a year when regular change has been the norm, do we want to make a shift of this size at this point in the school year?”
Another important aspect of changing the CHS schedule is the driving consideration of the 5-day school week for the entire District. The Block Schedule currently used at CHS requires ten days per two weeks to operate as it is designed. Trying to establish the existing academic block schedule to a four-day school week would require the creation of a very complex and confusing schedule that would likely require the rescheduling of even more students.
The school board also noted that special considerations should be made for student athletes who may miss their one in-person class on days where they are scheduled to attend a sporting event. In certain strenuous circumstances, accommodations may warrant a need to modify hybrid schedules to best meet the needs of students with conflicting school commitments.
For more information regarding hybrid learning models and schedules or full-remote learning, the district invites parents and families to contact their child’s individual school.