LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- Clark County School District students are on spring break this week, but some Nevadans are already looking ahead to summer break in just two months. In a work session in the Nevada Legislature on Monday, a local lawmaker petitioned for a free, expanded summer school to get kids caught up academically.
Senate Bill 173 would allow school districts like CCSD to expand their summer school offerings, and would enable to them to make it free as well.
After a year of distance learning, Senator Marilyn Dondero Loop (D-Clark County) is hoping to improve upon the learning loss from the pandemic.
"Many students did okay in the virtual experience, but many, many, many students did not."
The bill would allow districts like CCSD to host free, expanded summer school, kindergarten through grade 12, with bussing offered.
"This will be at no cost, and typically in the past we have not offered elementary school summer school,” said Dondero Loop. “So this will provide that elementary student with that."
This would be paid for with federal dollars from the American Rescue Plan, set aside for Nevada schools.
"This will allow those students to have the chance to catch up and be prepared for the next, for the fall semester,” said Dondero Loop.
But it's not just about learning loss; Dondero Loop says it's about mental health as well, and giving students the social interaction so many have long craved during the pandemic.
When they first introduced SB173, it received widespread support.
"We didn't have any opposition," said Dondero Loop.
But CCSD has yet to express a stance on the bill. Rather, in an email to FOX5 Monday, they expressed a statement of acknowledgment:
CCSD has been in conversations with our bargaining partners so we can start planning our summer programs needed to address and accelerate the academic loss from this pandemic. We, like the legislature, understand that additional families may be seeking summer school opportunities as a way to build upon a year of distance education.
Dondero Loop said she believes the reason districts testified “neutral” recently, is because they needed more time to review logistics.
“I think they were trying to figure out how they were going to submit their plan,” said Dondero Loop.
So what would it look like for your family? That would depend on the district’s submission to the state.
"When they submit that plan, they can choose how they want that summer school, that is going to be enhanced, to run,” said Dondero Loop.
FOX5 conducted an informal social media survey on Facebook and Twitter, and of the several hundred CCSD parents who responded, roughly 60% said they would sign their child up for free, enhanced summer school if it was offered with bussing.
One CCSD parent said she'd be for sending her kid to the free schooling option, "to at least get the social interaction,” she said, but not full time.
"She's not doing very good, especially in math,” said Brandi Rollins of her eighth grade daughter.
Rollins said her daughter is failing math. She added that distance learning has played a big part in that, since she has trouble focusing on the Google Meet platform.
"I think they kinda want to go back, but still need that break,” said Rollins. “We need that time as a family to not have the stress.”
Would summer school resemble the past year’s style of learning? Not exactly, since it would be offered in person and virtually, according to the bill. But because of the improving health picture, amid a vaccine rollout and fewer COVID-19 deaths, Dondero Loop said the big difference is that kids wouldn't just be “sitting at their desks with a piece of paper.”
"I heard from one middle school principal, who asked if there's a way that they could develop some outside STEM and STEAM activities,” said Dondero Loop. “So see? That's something that they could do in this process."
SB173 intends to address the specific impacts of the pandemic, so its provisions would expire at the end of the year if passed by the legislature and signed by Governor Steve Sisolak.