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Fresno Unified Chief Still Hopes Schools Will Reopen Before Summer

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Despite Gov. Gavin Newsom’s belief that California schools will remain closed due to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, Fresno Unified Superintendent Bob Nelson said Wednesday he’s not willing to give up hope yet.
Nelson’s comment came in a 6-minute video update that the district posted Wednesday afternoon.
Because of the truncated school year, Newsom on Wednesday suspended standardized student testing.
He had said at a Tuesday news conference that he expects schools will remain closed into the summer.

‘Not Ready’ To Decide

Nelson said Wednesday that he believes it’s too soon to know for certain whether schools can reopen this school year. Last week, when district officials made the call to close schools starting Monday, they expected the closures would end by April 14.
“We are preparing for that possibility, but as changing information goes from moment to moment, we’re just not ready to make a decision about shutting down the entire school year in one fell swoop,” he said.
Clovis Unified, in its update posted online Wednesday afternoon, also expressed hope that schools will be back in session by April 14. The district “will continue to plan for the worst and hope for the best,” the update said.
Fresno Unified students who have access to the Internet will find optional educational materials on the district’s website and through the parent and student portals, so kids can keep learning while schools remain closed for the COVID-19 outbreak, Nelson said.
District spokeswoman Nikki Henry said the online materials are considered optional because they will not be graded. They will include curriculum and examples of daily schedules for each grade level, she said.
“This will be updated at least weekly to keep our students’ learning up to speed,” she said in an email to GV Wire. “As we have more content and updates we’ll make sure to share them.”

Options For Those Without Internet

For those without online access, the district is working with local partners such as Valley PBS to provide learning opportunities, Nelson said.
“Please stayed tuned and close to us for more information coming as we develop these plans,” he said.

Nelson noted that the city of Fresno has ordered residents to voluntarily shelter in place starting at midnight Thursday, other than to travel to the grocery store, pharmacy, or other necessary trips.
He urged students and their families to respect the directive, which he said is designed to keep residents from inadvertently spreading COVID-19 more widely in the community.
The school district has been deemed an essential business operation by the city and will continue to provide meals to all who request it, not just students who attend Fresno Unified schools, Nelson said.

District Meals Available To All

He acknowledged that there have been some hiccups in the meal deliveries — the number of meals requested skyrocketed from 4,700 Monday to 14,400 Tuesday, and he expects it will continue to grow — but he also cautioned residents against asking for more meals than they need each day.
“Here’s what we’re asking of you: Please, take only what you need,” he said. “Do not panic and stockpile our food that is meant to feed our children in need.
“We’re not going to ask questions. … Be honest about your need.”
The meal distribution is from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. weekdays at the following 18 sites: Addams, Columbia, Figarden, Lincoln elementary schools; Cooper Academy; Hamilton K-8 and Wawona K-8; Ahwahnee, Computech, Fort Miller, Kings Canyon, Scandinavian, Sequoia, Tehipite, Tenaya, Terronez, Tioga, and Yosemite middle schools
 

COVID-19 Superintendent Message March 18, 2020 from Fresno Unified on Vimeo.
 

Central Unified School District

Meanwhile, Central Unified School District on Wednesday launched an online learning resources webpage, with suggested scheduled and learning resources by grade span, resources for special needs such as speech and occupational therapy, and mental health resources.
Printed packets for students in grades kindergarten through eighth and library books will be available for pickup from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday at the same site where school meals are being provided: Biola-Pershing, Polk, Saroyan, Teague, and Tilley elementary schools, and Central High-East. Meals are being distributed from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Meanwhile, teachers are working on specific plans for students and will have them ready to share by March 30. Students will get general resources and specific activities from their classes.

Madera Unified School District

Madera Unified announced Wednesday that report cards for the grading period will not be mailed home. Parents, however, will be notified when the grades can be reviewed through the parent portal.
The district plans to distribute student materials Thursday and Friday at each school site. The distribution hours are 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Meals are being distributed at school sites from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday to all children age 18 and younger. Students must be present to receive their meals.
The district’s Call Center is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays at 559-416-5858.

Nancy Price is a multimedia journalist for GV Wire. A longtime reporter and editor who has worked for newspapers in California, Florida, Alaska, Illinois and Kansas, Nancy joined GV Wire in July 2019. She previously worked as an assistant metro editor for 13 years at The Fresno Bee. Nancy earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. Her hobbies include singing with the Fresno Master Chorale and volunteering with Fresno Filmworks. You can reach Nancy at 559-492-4087 or Send an Email