Robert Perea, The Fernley Reporter
As a student in the Western Nevada College Jump Start program, distance learning has been a regular part of life for Celeste Condie for the past two years.
So when Governor Steve Sisolak announced on March 15 that he was ordering all of the state’s schools closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, not much changed for Condie.
For most of the rest of Fernley High School students, and all of them in lower grades in elementary, intermediate or middle schools, it meant a change from the classroom to a computer, tablet or phone screen, or in some cases, prepared paper packets.
Although the governor’s stay-at-home order and prohibition on gatherings of more than 10 people is set to expire April 30, it’s still possible that order could be extended, and no one knows yet whether schools will reopen at all before the end of the current school year in June.
For the graduating Class of 2020, it’s also a question of whether they will be allowed to have a traditional graduation ceremony, or if not, what there might be instead.
Condie, who is also the Fernley High student body president, said senior class leadership met in a conference call last Thursday to discuss alternatives for graduation, and is scheduled to meet again this week to brainstorm ideas of what to do if they can’t walk across the stage to get their diplomas.
“We’re hoping it doesn’t come to that, but we have to be prepared in case it does,” she said. “I would hope that we would somehow get to do it in person, even if it’s in July or August. That would be more meaningful for me.”
In the meantime, Condie said students have adjusted well to the distance learning format.
As a student in the Jump Start program, Condie has been taking most of her classes online or via interactive teleconference since last year. FHS classes are now working in a similar way, where students watch a teacher’s lecture by video, or work off of notes posted online.
“Distance learning is not necessarily the funnest, but it is working pretty well,” she said.
But while the students see each other in the video classes, Condie said they are missing the daily interaction they get at school.
“I never thought I’d miss coming to high school every day, but I do,” she said. “It’s a big part of our lives, and we were counting on these last couple of months for it to sink in that we are actually leaving.”
Condie said missing out on the last days of high school and saying proper goodbyes is what students will miss most if school doesn’t reopen.
“So we hope that that we get to come back in May, or even one day in June, to come back and experience it all again,” she said.