LAS VEGAS (FOX5)-- As the Clark County School District suffers a staffing shortage, Nevada Learning Academy, the district's only virtual schooling option still accepting enrollment, is feeling particular strain due to exorbitant demand from enrollment.
With health concerns mounting over in-person schooling, and the districtwide staffing issues seemingly worsening, parents who are unable to reach NVLA office staff are asking FOX5 whether NVLA is still accepting enrollment.
"Families are still able to register their children for NVLAm" said CCSD's communications team.
Enrollment has exploded recently at NVLA. Compared to last school year, enrollment at NVLA has risen nearly 1500%. Their numbers show as of Aug. 23, there were more than 7,000 students enrolled. The majority of these students are elementary.
Amid the delta variant surge, instead of reopening distance education for in-person students, CCSD pointed concerned parents to the always-virtual NVLA. It's the district's public, tuition-free, online school.
The district recently stated that they are struggling to staff up amid skyrocketing demand, and it's a problem teachers' union president Marie Neisess often hears about from her members.
"There are not enough educators," said Neisess.
She said all educators are stretched thin right now, but NVLA teachers especially. Their class sizes are growing quickly.
An NVLA teacher we spoke to who preferred not to be identified Monday said she and her colleagues are inundated with assignments to grade. She said just accounting for each students' attendance is taking hours out of her week.
"Even though it's distance learning, it's still a lot of students," said Neisess.
Parents have also complained to us that they're having trouble accessing registration information, especially at the elementary school level, on the NVLA website.
Judging by the "registration request" section of their website, families may now need to seek registration in person now, although CCSD's communications office failed to answer that question on Monday.
Separately, an NVLA parent said that she heard from NVLA's principal, Michael Martin, this weekend about elementary admission. She said he told her they are not allowed to stop their enrollment, but confirmed they are having trouble staffing.
Now, the district is presenting a new solution to meet the demand, and it's raising eyebrows of some teachers in the district.
CCSD sent out a note to teachers across the district last week asking they'd be interested in doing elementary distance instruction outside of their contractual workday of their assigned school, approximately 4 to 8 p.m., Monday through Thursday with office hours on Fridays.
"They're now asking educators day to go from 7 [hours], 11 [minutes], to an 11 hour day, and that's just the instructional part, because teachers are going to have to prep for the other additional classroom in the evening," said Neisess.
The idea is that the always-virtual NVLA would allow some students to participate in evening classes (and begin their morning classes later), so that there are enough teachers for all students.
But Neisess said, generally, her members' reactions to the proposition are less than enthused.
"They're like, 'Who can take on one more thing?'" said Neisess.
They're not requiring teachers do it. Per CCSD's memo, they would offer the gig at educators' contractual rate of pay.
"I think it's like they're trying to move this as quickly as possible, because at the end of the day, it is about students and making sure that they're educated at the best they can be. And everyone agrees that we need to figure out different solutions," said Neisess. "We should have been planning prior to the school year opening."
Superintendent Dr. Jesus Jara earlier this summer said he's in conversations with the state superintendent to discuss solutions to the teacher shortage.