July 24, 2020 – Dear NJUHSD Community:

On March 13, the Nevada Joint Union High School District, along with all Nevada County school districts and charters schools, announced the closure of our campuses for in-person instruction in response to the sudden onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. At that time, we joined a statewide trend that eventually culminated in the closing of virtually all public school campuses in California.

Over the past four months, the district has closely monitored the situation, reviewed guidance from local and state agencies, and implemented the best possible practices for our students, families, and staff. We developed internal committees and workgroups of administrators, teachers and classified staff to guide us in the safe physical reopening of schools this fall. In addition, we conducted a survey of parents and staff, and held a series of virtual input sessions to answer questions and solicit feedback from stakeholders.

The path has not been easy, and every recommendation and decision was reached utilizing painstaking analysis and feedback. The realities and challenges posed by the pandemic are overwhelming. Consequently, there are no right answers when it comes to navigating what high schools will look like in the midst of this constantly evolving crisis.

On Julv 22, the district’s Board of Trustees voted that the 2020-21 instructional year will be initiated in full distance learning only. The board instructed district administration to take appropriate steps to assess the safety and feasibility later this fall with the intent of implementing a full reopening of all campuses and related student activities as soon as it is safe to do so. The criteria necessary to safely and effectively make these future decisions will be determined by the district in the months ahead.

This decision was difficult to reach, as we know that the best place for our students is at school. However, the immediate health and safety of our students, families, staff, and broader community must remain our highest priority. Current conditions, along with the dangers posed by the virus’ rapid community spread, preclude our ability to reopen our schools with utmost safety at this time.

We know this is an incredible disappointment to parents, staff, and especially students. The continuance of distance learning will cause increased hardship to many families. We remain committed to supporting families in every way possible to ensure that distance learning is a success and that the social and emotional needs of our students are met. As such, the district has concentrated its planning efforts to ensure that it offers the very best instructional and support services to students and families in a distance learning model. In the weeks ahead:

• Teachers will receive expanded training in distance learning to improve their instructional practice.
• Students will receive additional training at the start of the year to become better distance learners.
• All teachers and students will be trained in the use of district’s Schoology online learning management system.
• Online support for parents will be increased to make it easier for them to participate in the education of their students.
• The district will continue to assist students and families to address online access challenges and needs.

The start of the 2020-21 instructional year remains Monday, August 17. Over the next few weeks, the district and its school sites will provide additional information to students and parents as to the start of the instructional year. Finally, the district will continue to closely monitor public health conditions and continue planning for a return to in-person learning, either hybrid or full time, during the 2020-21 academic year as the situation permits.

No one could have imagined the far-reaching impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. I share in the frustration that despite our collective efforts to flatten the curve in the spring we are not in a place to reopen schools safely this fall. We remain firmly committed to continuing to do everything within our power to ensure that students and staff can safely return to school as soon as possible.

Thank you for your continued support and your patience as we plan for the best outcome that meets the health and safety needs of students and staff. Please contact your individual school sites and/or the district office for additional information.

Brett McFadden – superintendent