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Central Unified Campuses Will Stay Closed Until January



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Update: The Central Unified School Board voted unanimously Tuesday to keep students on distance learning through the end of the semester and bring elementary school students back to campus starting in January.

Middle and high school students would return to school possibly in the spring under Option D.

That option, one of four presented at Tuesday’s board meeting, was the recommendation of the district administration, spokeswoman Sonja Dosti said Wednesday.


The Central Unified School Board will consider whether to bring students in all grades back to school all at once, stagger their return — or even keep them home on distance learning.

Four options are being presented by the administration to the board at Tuesday’s meeting, which begins at 7 p.m.

They are:

  • Keeping students on distance learning until a vaccine is available.
  • Bring students in transitional kindergarten through 12th grade back to school simultaneously, but on hybrid schedules that would keep half the students home on distance learning while the other half is on campus.
  • Stagger the return, with hybrid schedules: Students in transitional kindergarten through second grade would return to school starting Nov. 2, students in third grade through sixth grade would return starting Nov. 30, and middle and high school students would come back to school for the start of the new semester in January.
  • Stagger and delay the return: Students would remain on distance learning through the end of the semester so as to minimize learning disruptions and also because of the advent of the flu season. Elementary students would return to school in January, and secondary students “possibly” return in the spring.

Mandatory face masks, distancing, contact tracing, screening, and cleaning procedures are outlined in the reopening plan.

Bus Seating Plan Approved

The district’s reopening plan also includes a diagram of how students will be transported by bus once schools reopening. The plan, which was approved by the Fresno County Department of Public Health in September, apparently doesn’t permit 6-foot distancing, since students would be seated in every row, with the middle position on seats to the left and right of the aisle left empty.

Under the state’s school reopening guidelines, districts can apply for a waiver to reopen elementary schools even if the county is in Tier 1, also known as the purple tier. The state’s color-coded tier system is determined according to state calculations for infection and testing rates.

Fresno County celebrated a milestone on Tuesday when it completed two weeks of being in Tier 2, or the red tier. All students, no matter their grade level, can return to school once counties are in the red tier for at least two weeks.

“For this week we are going to stay in the red, and we anticipate that some school districts will choose to open secondary schools for in-person instruction,” Sim Dhillon, spokesman for the Fresno County Department of Public Health, said Tuesday.

They Can Stay Open

And once the secondary schools are open, they will not close again due to any change in the county’s tier status, local and state health officials have said. That way, students won’t be subjected to openings followed by closings followed by openings. Schools and classes with outbreaks may still close on a local basis.

But if the schools haven’t reopened to in-person classes and the county returns to the purple tier, then districts will need to wait until the county has been in the red tier again for two weeks before secondary schools have the option to reopen, Dhillon said.

Central Unified’s Reopening Plan

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