The Clovis Unified school board will vote Wednesday on whether to reopen schools on May 4 or extend the closures, possibly through the end of the school year.
The recommendation from Superintendent Eimear O’Farrell will be released at the board meeting, which starts at 6:30 p.m. and will be held by videoconference because of the restrictions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The district is the last one in the Fresno area still considering a May 4 reopening. Trustees in the other districts voted to extend the closures weeks ago, when it was evident that the coronavirus threat would not abate anytime soon and after Gov. Gavin Newsom recommended keeping schools closed through June.
Clovis Unified opted to wait and see, but has vowed to follow the advice of county and state health officials before making its decision.
Fresno’s Shelter Order Set To Expire
The city of Fresno’s shelter-in-place order will expire on May 6, and the county health officer said during a teleconference Friday he believes it might be possible to lift the restrictions by then, given the current rate of cases and availability of testing.
District spokeswoman Kelly Avants said by email Monday that the options will include:
- reopening altogether;
- reopening but with staggered schedules or some other strategy for social distancing;
- remaining closed but allowing students to reunite to pick up yearbooks, return textbooks, and turn in any work.
District officials are aware that some parents might not feel safe having their children return to school while the virus continues to be a threat, Avants said.
“Lately we have been using the word ‘grace’ a lot, and recognize that if we do reconvene onsite classes in any form, there may be some parents who do not want their children to participate,” she said. “If our recommendation (if permitted by the CDPH) were to return to onsite classes, we would work with families who wanted to continue distance learning to meet their child’s educational needs as well.”
‘Every School District Is Unique’
If Clovis Unified opts to reopen schools, it would be in stark contrast to other local school districts and somewhat of a repudiation of the statements by O’Farrell and other area superintendents at a March 12 news conference, when they indicated they would work in tandem on coronavirus-related decisions such as closures since their districts interconnect across Fresno.
O’Farrell remains in daily contact with those superintendents, and all the districts are continuing to work together “to navigate this unprecedented situation,” Avants said.
But Clovis Unified will make the best decisions for its students, staff, and community, she said: “Working together continues to be important, but we also recognize that every school district is unique in its educational philosophy, serves a unique community, and has unique governance.
“We are fortunate to have an agile organization that can respond to current information about COVID-19 relatively quickly.”
The live-stream meeting may be accessed at https://www.youtube.com/user/clovisusd/feed.
Members of the public who wish to provide public comments during the meeting are asked to fill out a public presentation form provided at https://www.cusd.com/RequestforPublicPresentation.aspx.