For the Humboldt County School District, the first two days of class for the 2020-2021 school year went smoothly. That’s good news for both the district and the 3,400 students who face an unprecedented school year. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the district to rethink how to best educate children. State issued directives have complicated the ways teachers, staff, students and parents interact with each other. These mandates have affected not only how classrooms are filled with students but how also transportation, meal service, lesson delivery, or if students and teachers physically attend at all. 

Humboldt County School District Superintendent Dr. Dave Jensen officially welcomed students and staff back at the Sept. 8 school board meeting. Dr. Jensen said that he and Assistant Superintendent Dawn Hagness visited schools within Winnemucca, adding they hope to visit all the schools within the district soon. 

“Both students and staff were eagerly engaged and excited for the new year,” Dr. Jensen said. “We saw full compliance with masks ... We appreciate everybody following the directives that we find ourselves under.”

Despite the limitations, Dr. Jensen said in a follow-up email that the school year is off to a good start. “Both students and staff are happy to be together. We have not had much in the way of issues. There are always a few bus issues that we work through regardless of the year, so not unexpected.”

The McDermitt Combined schools had some technology issues with the T-Mobile hotspots to support distance learning, but Dr. Jensen said the district quickly corrected this by securing hot spots from Verizon. The hotspot units were delivered to McDermitt Tuesday. 

Dr. Jensen said that approximately 162 students will be homeschooled. As result, these students will not be counted toward total enrollment and will affect he amount of funding the district receives. According to Dr. Jensen, the district stands to lose $7,400 per pupil which puts the loss at approximately $1.2 million in less student support. However, Dr. Jensen told the board he anticipates that some of these students may return to the district as the school year progresses. Dr. Jensen also said the district will adjust for the loss of funds throughout the school year. 

But the overall take-away from the first two days of school is positive. “Today was just a breath of fresh air,” Hagness said. “Today, being in the school and seeing life there, just felt so good.”