In the hallways of Faith Lutheran Middle School and High School, signs on the floor indicate one-way traffic during the elapsed periods and mark 6 feet of social distance outside of the classroom so students know where to stand before entering.
Signs throughout campus remind of physical distancing and health measures, including one that reads “Stay safe. Please keep 6 feet apart. “
The measures can have an impact. Nevada’s largest private school, with approximately 1,900 students and a 50-acre campus near downtown Summerlin, did not detect any confirmed COVID-19 cases in students or staff in the first six weeks of school.
Faith Lutheran brought his 202 employees back to campus full-time in late July, and a new hybrid school year began for students in mid-August.
Approximately 850 students are on campus on any given day while the rest of them listen to their classes from home using Zoom Each cohort comes to campus for two days and then takes two days of distance learning. Around 250 students opted for distance learning.
Although there has been no COVID-19 case with Faith Lutheran since the school reopened, school officials remain vigilant.
“We are still in the middle of a pandemic with a virus that is spreading rapidly,” Steve Buuck, CEO of Faith Lutheran, said in a recent press release. “If we get a positive case, our school nurse will work directly with the Southern Nevada Health District to determine the direction in which to continue quarantine (and) contact tracing and follow up with doctors for evaluation and treatment.”
Like Faith Lutheran, some private schools in the Las Vegas Valley state that they have seen few, if any, COVID-19 cases since they opened to students for personal courses in August. Private schools report virus cases to the Southern Nevada Health District and communicate with parents, but many schools do not publicly post case numbers on their websites.
59 positive cases
Stephanie Bethel, spokeswoman for the Southern Nevada Health District, said the district is working with private schools on COVID-19. She said the district does not provide specific case information by location.
However, a health document obtained from the review journal titled “Clark County Schools Reopening Summary” shows that from August 10 to September 21, 59 single positive cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in connection with schools: 35 among high school students, 18 among Teachers and six under staff. These include the Clark County School District, public charter schools, and private schools.
Of the 59 positive cases, 11 among schoolchildren and eight among school employees concerned “exposures to other students or employees”. These exposures resulted in a 14-day quarantine for 418 additional students or school employees.
“All locations with COVID-19 cases have closed classrooms to disinfect for 24 hours,” the document says.
Some of the region’s largest private schools did not respond to a question in the Review Journal about how many COVID-19 cases they had so far this school year. And one, the Henderson International School, declined to provide numbers because school policies prohibit the disclosure of personal information about students.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Las Vegas, with 3,497 students in seven elementary or middle schools and Bishop Gorman High School, has been notified of nine COVID-19 cases in the six weeks since the schools reopened.
Of these, six faculty members or employees out of a total of 234 tested positive, according to the diocese, as did three students.
On the education campus of Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson, a Jewish day school in west Las Vegas with about 480 students in preschool through 12th grade, only teachers have reported a positive diagnosis of COVID-19, Head Boy Matt Boland said. He said he could not provide details but the number of cases was low.
Meadows School in Summerlin, which has about 880 preschool-age students through 12th grade, has not taken positive tests on full-time, one-on-one campus campus since the start of the school year, Headeach Lauren Walker said Tuesday.
Before reopening, the school provided COVID-19 tests to its approximately 150 faculty members and staff. Two tested positive and quarantined at home.
“They were never around students,” said school principal Jeremy Gregersen. The two employees were later tested negative in two tests more than 24 hours apart before returning to work.
The school pays the university hospital to conduct COVID-19 tests on site two days a week. Walker said that more than 700 individual COVID-19 tests were conducted on campus on Tuesday as part of the partnership with UMC.
The Lutheran School in Mountain View, with 115 students in kindergarten through fifth grade and more than 50 in preschool, opened full-time on August 10th. The school had not seen any COVID-19 cases as of Wednesday.
School principal Kris Schneider said he deliberately reminded staff, parents and students not to relax.
“We can’t relax that because there can be problems if we make ourselves comfortable,” he said.
Fewer people in class
According to a press release from the school, Faith Lutheran has remained coronavirus-free “thanks to self-performed daily health checks, vigilant disinfection and physical distancing at school”.
“What really impressed me are the students and how compliant they were,” said Buuck on Thursday, for example with wearing a mask and disinfecting their desk at the end of each class.
What’s different about this school year?
“Definitely fewer people in the class,” said Faith Lutheran High School junior Tatum Bowers, adding that wearing a mask was a challenge all day.
Bowers also said that taking classes is completely different. She said it is difficult to focus from home and she thinks that teachers’ attention is usually focused on the students who are there in person.
Despite the policy of not having any visitors, including parents, the Lutheran officials of the Faith allowed the Review Journal to spend an hour on campus Thursday to observe in classrooms.
During Steve Morrill’s anatomy and physiology classes in high school, only about eight students were physically in the classroom while the rest of the class attended through Zoom.
In a freshman history class, there were about 10 students in teacher Joel Arnold’s classroom. The desks were in front of the classroom more than two meters apart.
During the lecture, Arnold asked his students, who were watching via Zoom, “How are you at home? Microphones on? Can i get a thumbs up “
Brandon Buskirk taught sixth graders from the back of his classroom with a makeshift plastic barrier surrounding him. His 2-year-old daughter received a heart transplant more than a year ago and is immunocompromised.
“I just have to be careful not to bring anything home for her,” he said.
Buskirk said the school year has gone smoothly so far, although the first two or three weeks have been difficult to adapt to the technology. He also said that being physically in a classroom with your students was much better than teaching virtually.
“These kids love to be in class,” he said. “You have to be in class.”
Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Faith Lutheran did not have a policy for visitors.
The review journal is owned by the family of Sheldon and Miriam Adelson, the founders of the Adelson Educational Campus.
Contact Julie Wootton-Greener at [email protected] or 702-387-2921. Follow @julieswootton on Twitter.