Nevada Joint Union reaches agreement with teachers’ association on safety, accommodations for 2020-21 school year

The Nevada Joint Union High School District Board of Trustees has voted unanimously to approve a memorandum of understanding between the district and the Nevada Joint Union High School Teachers’ Association, establishing safety requirements, instructional practices, and accommodations for the 2020-21 school year.

“I definitely want to make sure that our teachers know this board really does believe in our teachers,” said board president Jamie Reeves following a Monday special meeting. “Our focus is to make sure that students have access to education and also keep the district solvent through this crisis, and we can’t do any of that without a healthy workforce.”

The special meeting, in which the memorandum was the only action item on the agenda, lasted under 10 minutes. The memorandum had been considered during the board’s Aug. 12 meeting, but the vote was postponed then.

Among the safety requirements set in place ­— expected to help mitigate transmission of COVID-19 in the case of any in-person instruction this school year — include agreements that the district provide teachers personal protective equipment, stock sinks with soap and classrooms with medically-effective hand sanitizer, and configure classrooms to ensure at least six feet of distance between student work spaces. In addition, the agreement stipulates that mandatory meetings be held virtually.

Per the memorandum, if the district returns to in-person instruction during the current school year, all students, staff, and visitors will be required to complete daily COVID-19 symptom checks before entering a school campus. Anyone displaying symptoms indicating a potential case of COVID-19 will be sent home.

Concerning the current distance learning model, the district and teachers’ association have agreed that teachers will report student attendance, design daily live interaction to meet student needs, and regularly communicate with parents or guardians regarding academic progress. They will be required to hold at least one hour of “office hours” each week.

In accordance with the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act, which is set to expire Dec. 31, teachers will use up to 10 days of available federal paid sick leave if they need to isolate because they or someone under their care have a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19, or if they have to care for their child due to a COVID-19-related school closure.

In approving the memorandum, the district has also agreed to “make reasonable attempts to provide no-cost childcare for staff who return to in-person instruction,” with a provision that childcare services may come at a “minimal” cost.

Unless renegotiated or extended, the agreement is set to last until June 2021.

Victoria Penate is a staff writer for . She can be reached at [email protected]

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