Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Fresno Unified: Distance Learning Will Be Done 'Right Way' Starting Next Week
gvw_nancy_price
By Nancy Price, Multimedia Journalist
Published 4 years ago on
August 11, 2020

Share

When the new school year begins for Fresno Unified School District next Monday, students will spend their first two days getting to know teachers and classmates via their laptops and tablets.

The school day for all students in grades TK-12 will begin at 9 a.m. with periods and blocks of instruction that will vary in length, depending on the child’s age, Superintendent Bob Nelson said.

School officials are making sure that students have the materials and devices, including Wi-Fi and broadband Internet connection, that they will need for their online classes, which will begin in earnest on Aug. 19.

Unlike the distance learning of last spring, when schools closed abruptly in an effort to stem the spread of the coronavirus, parents will have more support this time around. This will include dedicated time to communicate with their child’s teacher and school site leader. Students will have specific schedules that their parents can access through the district’s ATLAS information system.

And this time around, schoolwork will be graded, and attendance will be mandatory.

Keeping Track of Kids

District staffers from the Prevention and Intervention department will be responsible for tracking down those students who aren’t showing up for class, just as they would have searched for students absent from school when they were open, Superintendent Bob Nelson said at a virtual news conference with several trustees Monday.

Fresno Unified School Board member Keshia Thomas

“We know that we will still need to listen, learn, and adjust as we experience distance learning, for the first time, the right way.” — Board president Keisha Thomas

The goal for this year, as it is for every year, is to “find every child,” he said. “That’s going to be even more crucial in a digital learning environment, where we have to potentially expose people to COVID to go out and find the kids that need us and can come back to school.”

Fresno Unified Board President Keshia Thomas said that the students’ schedules have been crafted to meet their academic and social-emotional needs.

But, Thomas said, students, parents, and staff need to remain flexible, because  “we know that we will still need to listen, learn, and adjust as we experience distance learning, for the first time, the right way.”

The district has designated school sites as the information hub for students, with dedicated hotline phone numbers and weekly virtual meetings with school site leaders.

Instruction Starts at 9 a.m. Daily

Nelson said that creating school-day schedules with designated times for parents to meet with teachers and ask questions and for students to get individualized instruction provides structure and also clarity.

Teachers will start each Monday morning sharing that week’s lessons from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. On Tuesdays through Fridays, teachers will use that hour on two days for office hours to meet with students and parents, and the first hour on the remaining two days to work with their professional learning community on lesson plans and improving the distance learning experience for students.

The school day for all students in grades TK-12 will begin at 9 a.m. with periods and blocks of instruction that will vary in length, depending on the child’s age, he said.

Students will have live online instruction every day, most of which will be in the mornings before lunch. Teachers will provide individual instruction for students needing more assistance in the afternoons, while other students will use that time to participate in enrichment classes such as the arts, Nelson said.

Block Schedules Aid Social Distancing Later

Middle and high school students will be on block schedules of alternating classes (periods 1, 3 and 5 on some days, periods 2, 4, and 6 on others), which will be useful for maintaining social distancing once they are back in the classrooms, Nelson said.

The district is not offering a school-connected alternative that would allow working parents more opportunity to supervise their children’s schoolwork at times more convenient for the family, as are other school districts. Parents who want that flexibility and independence, and who are ready to take on the increased responsibility, can still sign up their kids for Fresno Unified’s eLearn Academy, Nelson said.

The return to school buildings for in-person instruction hinges on whether Fresno County can lower its infection and hospitalization rates sufficiently to exit the state of California’s watchlist.

The district is not offering a school-connected alternative that would allow working parents more opportunity to supervise their children’s schoolwork at times more convenient for the family, as are other school districts.

Parents who want that flexibility and independence, and who are ready to take on the increased responsibility, can still sign up their kids for Fresno Unified’s eLearn Academy, Nelson said.

Keeping Students Connected

The district has taken steps to make sure each student has a device and access to the Internet, and requests for those devices and for assistance were heating up Monday, he said.

More than 2,000 calls were logged in just two hours Monday morning at the district’s Family Learning and Technology Support Center, he said.

Teachers will have the opportunity to decide whether they want to work from their empty classrooms or from home, Nelson said. He said the district will know after the start of the school year what percentage of teachers choose to work at school, where the broadband signal remains strong.

Younger teachers may also be responsible for their own children and would be loathed to leave them at home while working at school, he said.

Getting Help for Teacher-Parents

He said nonprofits and other organizations may be able to provide alternatives so that children of teachers can be supervised safely while their parents are working.

“We are having opportunities to partner with local nonprofits, local churches in the area, Boys and Girls Club, community leaders who are stepping up and saying, ‘Hey, we’ll provide a safe place for kids to work, socially distanced, while families are away at school.

“Community, that’s probably where we need your help, if you can rally around the people that are in your circle and try to provide supports for those working families. We can’t necessarily open childcare facilities, because if I do that it begs the question of why I’m not opening schools for primary age students. This is an opportunity for the community to pitch in and help us in a way of supporting working families.”

DON'T MISS

Rare House Vote Sees Ukraine, Israel Aid Advance as Democrats Join Republicans

DON'T MISS

Full Jury and 6 Alternates Seated in Trump’s Hush Money Trial

DON'T MISS

Wired Wednesday: How High Will the Price of Gold & Silver Go?

DON'T MISS

How 4/20 Grew From Humble Roots to Marijuana’s High Holiday

DON'T MISS

Taylor Swift Drops 15 New Songs on Double Album, ‘The Tortured Poets Department: The Anthology’

DON'T MISS

Lamborghini’s Race Evolution: From Tractors to the Track

DON'T MISS

Biden Administration Restricts Oil and Gas Leasing in 13 Million Acres of Alaska’s Petroleum Reserve

DON'T MISS

Logan Webb’s Seven Dominant Innings Help Giants Blank Diamondbacks

DON'T MISS

San Francisco Mayor Announces the City Will Receive Pandas from China

DON'T MISS

49ers to Pick 1st Round for First Time Since 2021

UP NEXT

Full Jury and 6 Alternates Seated in Trump’s Hush Money Trial

UP NEXT

Barbara Corcoran: 1% Interest Rate Drop Will Send Housing Prices ‘Through the Roof’

UP NEXT

Juror Dismissed From Trump Hush Money Trial. Prosecutors Seek to Hold Former President in Contempt

UP NEXT

Biden Backs House’s Aid Package for Ukraine, Israel While Speaker Johnson Battles to Retain Position

UP NEXT

Local Leaders Must Put Their Shoulders Into Making Fresno ‘Education City USA’

UP NEXT

EdSource Welcomes Fresno News Veteran Jim Boren to Its Board

UP NEXT

Myanmar’s Ousted Leader Suu Kyi Moved From Prison to House Arrest Due to Heat, Military Says

UP NEXT

NPR Editor Suspended Over Claims of Network’s ‘Progressive Worldview’

UP NEXT

Coalinga-Huron Teachers Say They’ll Strike Unless a Fair Contract Is Offered

UP NEXT

Now’s the Time to Register for FUSD’s Free Preschool and T-K

Nancy Price,
Multimedia Journalist
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

How 4/20 Grew From Humble Roots to Marijuana’s High Holiday

2 hours ago

Taylor Swift Drops 15 New Songs on Double Album, ‘The Tortured Poets Department: The Anthology’

2 hours ago

Lamborghini’s Race Evolution: From Tractors to the Track

2 hours ago

Biden Administration Restricts Oil and Gas Leasing in 13 Million Acres of Alaska’s Petroleum Reserve

2 hours ago

Logan Webb’s Seven Dominant Innings Help Giants Blank Diamondbacks

3 hours ago

San Francisco Mayor Announces the City Will Receive Pandas from China

3 hours ago

49ers to Pick 1st Round for First Time Since 2021

3 hours ago

Jury Selection Could Be Nearing a Close in Donald Trump’s Hush Money Trial in New York

3 hours ago

Finding an Apartment May Be Easier for California Pet Owners Under New Legislation

4 hours ago

Abandoned Pup LB Finds Hope and Healing. He’s Available for Adoption at Mell’s Mutts.

4 hours ago

Rare House Vote Sees Ukraine, Israel Aid Advance as Democrats Join Republicans

WASHINGTON  — With rare bipartisan momentum, the House pushed ahead Friday on a foreign aid package of $95 billion for Ukraine, Israel, Taiw...

25 mins ago

25 mins ago

Rare House Vote Sees Ukraine, Israel Aid Advance as Democrats Join Republicans

32 mins ago

Full Jury and 6 Alternates Seated in Trump’s Hush Money Trial

Video /
1 hour ago

Wired Wednesday: How High Will the Price of Gold & Silver Go?

2 hours ago

How 4/20 Grew From Humble Roots to Marijuana’s High Holiday

2 hours ago

Taylor Swift Drops 15 New Songs on Double Album, ‘The Tortured Poets Department: The Anthology’

Central Octane: Lamborghini Super Trofeo EVO
2 hours ago

Lamborghini’s Race Evolution: From Tractors to the Track

2 hours ago

Biden Administration Restricts Oil and Gas Leasing in 13 Million Acres of Alaska’s Petroleum Reserve

3 hours ago

Logan Webb’s Seven Dominant Innings Help Giants Blank Diamondbacks

MENU

CONNECT WITH US

Search

Send this to a friend