LAS VEGAS–Today, Governor Steve Sisolak announced school buildings and district office sites will reopen no earlier than April 16 as a necessary step to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. This order is in alignment with his directive to close non-essential businesses for 30 days.
“Each decision we are making in response to the COVID-19 crisis is based on the latest scientific data and recommendations from health officials, which can sometimes change as frequently as every hour,” Gov. Sisolak said. “I have been working closely with Superintendent of Public Instruction Jhone Ebert and the Nevada Department of Education to ensure our response to this unprecedented public health crisis is in the best interest of our students, their families, teachers, and all of the essential staff involved in the education of our children.”
This is the second directive the Governor has signed related to education. On Sunday, March 15, the governor announced that all schools in the state would physically close, to help mitigate the spread of the virus. This directive supports academic continuity during this time, aligns the school closure date based on updated advice from health experts, and suspends state testing requirements.
On Friday, Superintendent Ebert submitted a request to the U.S. Department of Education for a waiver of federal assessments, accountability, school identification, and reporting requirements for the 2019-2020 school year. The waiver request was approved by the U.S. Department of Education. In support of this federal waiver, Governor Sisolak has further suspended State assessment requests pursuant to Nevada Revised Statutes 390.105 and 390.610.
“I am grateful for the school and district staff who have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to doing what is best for Nevada’s children, day in and day out,” Governor Sisolak said. “I want to recognize the many districts and schools that have already marshaled their talent and resources to provide distance learning opportunities to students.”
Governor Sisolak also directed that all public and charter schools that have not yet begun providing distance learning opportunities must do so no later than March 23 or their next regularly scheduled session day. The Nevada Department of Education will be establishing a process by which districts may request approval for an Emergency Program of Distance Education.
“I want to thank Governor Sisolak for his steadfast leadership during this challenging time for our students, educators, staff, and communities,” said Superintendent Ebert. “The Nevada Department of Education remains committed to providing timely and accurate information and necessary support to districts and schools so that every student has the chance to continue their education.”
NRS 388.826 defines distance education as the instruction which is delivered by means of video, computer, television, or the internet or other electronic means of communication, or any combination thereof, in such a manner that the person supervising or providing the instruction and the pupil receiving the instruction are separated geographically for a majority of the time during which the instruction is delivered. The Governor’s directive expands this definition to include paper correspondence to ensure students have access to educational opportunities regardless of their means, access to technology, or at-home support.
County school districts, charter schools, and private schools will reopen no earlier than April 16, 2020, and only upon the approval of the Chief Medical Officer of the State of Nevada after a review of the risk of transmission within the geographic area defined by the Chief Medical Officer.