By Kevin Wilson
Editor 

Clovis discusses in-person learning

 

Last updated 1/30/2021 at 2:04pm



CLOVIS — The Clovis Municipal Schools Board of Education met on Tuesday, as it generally does near the conclusion of a month. But the timing was of note, with the state announcing earlier that day that in-person learning would soon happen again for all grades for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began last March.

Superintendent Renee Russ was admittedly short on details for the Tuesday evening meeting, given that administration received state timelines and expectations only a few hours prior. Hybrid learning can extend to grades 6-12 beginning Feb. 8, but the district has not committed to that or any other date. Russ told The News on Friday the district is “finalizing plans for start dates for different grade levels” and will release more information in the coming week.

The district has been operating in hybrid mode for grades K-5 since Jan. 19.

“Of course,” Russ said, “we're absolutely thrilled at the prospect of returning our students to some workable version of in-person learning, but there are obstacles. Having adequate staffing is one of our No. 1 concerns.”

The district will continue with three cohorts to keep in-person attendance at or below 50%:

• Cohort A, which attends school in person Monday and Tuesday and goes virtual the rest of the week.

• Cohort B, which learns remotely Monday through Wednesday and attends school in person Thursday and Friday.

• The online-only Cohort C.

Families can put their children into Cohort C at any time, but the district notes a transfer from C to A or B will take longer because schools have to stay within capacity restrictions.

Russ said surveillance testing will be 25% of staff each week, and any site that experiences four rapid responses within 14 calendar days must go to remote learning for 14 days.

“There is that possibility of moving in and out of hybrid to remote,” Russ said. “We hope that's never the case, but (we) need to know that's a possibility.”

Before each school is cleared to operate, a site visit will take place, likely involving a Public Education Department representative, the school principal and a local fire marshal.

The board heard a dozen updates from various departments, with most going well over a suggested two-minute window of discussion. Among the reports:

• Deputy Superintendent of Academic Services and Leadership Mitzi Estes said the district was down 193 students between September and January, with 170 of them in the middle and high school levels.

Estes said 143 of those students withdrew between December and January, and the district was curious as to whether they enrolled in nearby towns. The numbers, Estes said, indicated 58 moved out of state, but only 11 of those moved out of state within 100 miles. Five moved to nearby districts in the state, and nine graduated in the fall semester. About 50 students were disenrolled for non-attendance, but Estes said many have since re-enrolled.


The district was down 297 students in comparing 80-day counts that take place each December, and Estes said about half of the drops were seen at kindergarten; “parents chose to keep their kids home one more year under the circumstances.”

• CHS Principal Jay Brady repeatedly credited teachers for the work they’ve done over the year, with the school showing pass rates of 72% in math, 81% in social studies, 86% in science and 88% in English.

He said the rates were comparable to brick-and-mortar settings.

“I really want to drive this point home,” Brady said. “Our teachers are amazing and they're heroes.”

Brady also credited Anetta Hadley for various professional development efforts and Melissa Winn for her work with the early college program at Clovis Community College.

• Athletic Director Lonnie Baca said he was excited about a potential Feb. 22 return to athletics and said coaches were superheroes for their work in athletics while also being educators.

In his comments on athletics, Brady had noted, “Coaches have kept hope going. They've been the driving force in keeping their kids motivated. They've lived with every rule, they've set the model.”

• Brandon Boerio, director of music education, noted there were major challenges presented by the PED, including a ban on singing or playing wind instruments.

• Deputy Superintendent of Finance Shawna Russell noted the district is working on agreements with Plateau and Suddenlink for Internet service, with a $20 bill credit through Plateau through June or installation and six months of service from Suddenlink.


• Deputy Superintendent of Employee Services Joe Strickland said the district had reported 33 COVID-19 cases so far for the month, compared to 36 in December, 63 in November and 31 in October.

About 500 employees have indicated some level of vaccine interest, and Strickland said pandemic-induced decisions showed that plenty of work could be done remotely and the district was able to keep some people on the job even though they moved out of state.


Board member Cindy Osburn said she appreciated all of the work staff had done, but credited families and kids for being adaptable.

“Based on what we've heard tonight,” Osburn said, “the kids are stepping up.”

Board member Paul Cordova also credited teachers, stating, “I know a lot of people are saying, 'The teachers aren't doing anything. They're teaching from home. They've got it made.' They don't.”

The next board meeting is scheduled for Feb. 23.

 
 

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