The push to return students to physical classrooms has received a boost from the federal government.
Nevada is set to receive $477 million in pandemic relief funding to help with the reopening of its K-12 schools, most of which are operating entirely virtually or under a hybrid model with children physically in classrooms only part of the week.
The new funding is one tiny slice of the $900 billion pandemic relief package passed by Congress and signed by the president in late December. That package sets aside $54.3 billion for K-12 schools, with the money being allocated based on a federal formula that targets low-income students.
The new pot of relief money is four times larger than the tranche created as part of the CARES Act, which included $13 billion in funding to help K-12 schools with the unexpected and rapid transition to online learning. Nevada received $117 million of that money.
According to a letter from Secretary Betsy DeVos to states, the new funding is “intended to help States and school districts safely reopen schools, measure and effectively address significant learning loss, and take other actions to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the students and families who depend on our K-12 schools.”
The letter urges states to safely reopen ”as soon as possible.”
“Most of our children today would be far better off in school with in-person instruction,” reads the letter. “There is no excuse that so many of them are still locked out.”
Clark County School District — the state’s largest district and the nation’s fifth largest — has been entirely virtual since the beginning of the current academic year, which is now halfway over. Some smaller school districts, as well as independent charter schools overseen by the state, are operating under a hybrid schedule with cohorts of students alternating days or weeks of physical classes in order to keep the overall number of students down.
The CCSD School Board is expected on Jan. 14 to vote on a proposal that would bring the district’s youngest students (preschool through third grade) back to physical classrooms first. It will be the first major decision by a newly seated board, which includes three new board members.