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Moapa Valley schools want CCSD permission for in-person classes

Updated July 21, 2020 - 1:32 pm

A Moapa Valley education advisory board is pushing for the Clark County School District to allow four rural schools to offer some in-person instruction in August.

The school district announced Monday it’s recommending a distance learning start to the school year. The school board is slated to consider the proposal Tuesday night.

Four Moapa Valley schools are part of CCSD, the nation’s fifth-largest school district. But the valley is a rural area — about 65 miles northeast of Las Vegas — with fewer than 7,000 residents.

The Moapa Valley Community Education Advisory Board says CCSD’s one-size-fits-all approach to reopening school campuses doesn’t fit the community’s needs.

“We live in a community that’s rural,” said Teresa Holzer, an Overton attorney and vice chairwoman of the Moapa Valley Community Education Advisory Board. “It’s not even a suburb.”

School district officials hadn’t responded to a request for a comment as of Tuesday afternoon.

Holzer said Tuesday that she feels Clark County’s rural voice is being lost.

The advisory board — which was created by Nevada Revised Statutes and is subject to open-meeting laws — wants Moapa Valley children to get back to school to keep up their education, and for their mental and emotional well-being, Holzer said. “Our primary concern has been the effect of the school closure on our students and our children.”

Each of Moapa Valley’s schools — Bowler Elementary in Logandale, Perkins Elementary in Moapa, Lyon Middle in Overton and Moapa Valley High in Overton — has created a reopening plan, which was submitted to the school district.

Lyon, for instance, proposes in-person instruction four days a week and distance learning on Fridays. Perkins Elementary, which has about 136 students, wants to provide a full-time, five-day-a-week return to classrooms. Moapa Valley High and Bowler Elementary are proposing a model with a combination of in-person and distance education.

Holzer — who has two children, ages 16 and 17 — said she’s disturbed by the district’s proposal to consider starting the school year with fully distance learning. She said she doesn’t think it is acting in the best interest of children — especially those who live in rural communities.

“Why can’t the rural communities open up their schools even if they’re part of Clark County School District?” she said.

The Moapa Valley advisory board sent a letter June 29 to Gov. Steve Sisolak and sent copies to CCSD Superintendent Jesus Jara and the Nevada Department of Education. The letter asks leaders to allow rural schools the autonomy to safely bring back their students to school while complying with state guidelines.

Holzer said that Sisolak’s office acknowledged receipt of the letter but that the advisory board hasn’t received a formal response.

She said the advisory board plans to follow up with district and state officials.

“We can safely go back to school here,” Holzer said.

The Moapa Valley board is slated to meet at 9:30 a.m. Friday to consider next steps. Members of the public can attend via Zoom or in person — wearing a mask is required — at Old Logandale School Historical and Cultural Society, 3011 N. Moapa Valley Blvd. in Logandale.

In its June letter to Sisolak, the board wrote there is no rural representation on CCSD’s school reopening working group. And it noted there had been only six COVID-19 cases in Moapa Valley — none of which resulted in hospitalization or death.

The Southern Nevada Health District’s website shows 12 COVID-19 cases in the Moapa Valley’s 89021 ZIP code and nine in the 89040 ZIP code, as of Tuesday.

Moapa Valley schools have significantly fewer students than their Las Vegas-area counterparts and can “easily comply with social distancing guidelines while in school,” the advisory board wrote in the letter to Sisolak.

The largest Moapa Valley school campus, Bowler Elementary, has about 670 students. Moapa Valley High School has 577, Holzer said — far fewer than Las Vegas-area high schools, which typically have more than 3,000.

Contact Julie Wootton-Greener at jgreener@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2921. Follow @julieswootton on Twitter.

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