Education Matters: How districts adapted to the pandemic

Education

FRESNO, California (KSEE) – The COVID-19 pandemic upended the local educational system and has had a huge impact on students and parents, but from the very beginning school leaders sought to unify behind a single message: we’re going to get through this crisis together.

“We went from Friday March 13 to 200,000+ kids in our schools, teachers coming in every day, to we will no longer have kids on our campus,” said Fresno County Superintendent of Schools Jim Yovino. “We were all scrambling a little bit frankly.”

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The transition from teacher in the classroom to teacher in front of a computer hasn’t been easy. Yovino says schools weren’t set up for digital distance learning.

“Trust me that was incredible work they did over a weekend to get ready for Monday. Was it perfect Monday? No.”

But the county’s 32 school districts have come a long way since then. Both small and large districts have faced challenges.

“People are going to judge you on the basis of the decisions that you make and you’re going to be cross-compared in ways that are not always convenient or comfortable,” said Fresno Unified Superintendent Bob Nelson.

Nelson, the superintendent of the valley’s largest school district, says educators recognize that they are all in this effort together – and that has been comforting.

“The fundamental support and the reality that we are there for one another and we can provide those individual supports and collective supports to every leader across our systems. It’s crucial times for that.”

Yovino saw his role as county superintendent to bring everyone together: school districts, teachers, parents, with a unifying message. That message – promoted in both English and Spanish – is to let parents know they are not in this alone and there are resources and people to help.

“The first place the parents should always look for any information is at their local school districts and I know our parents do this. ‘Unified at Home’ is a resource page it’s a tool for parents to access.”

Yovino says he hears from parents every day and knows this hasn’t been easy, but progress is being made.

“If you think about where we were a little over six weeks ago to where we are today, my God we’ve made incredible gains,” said Yovino. “But it’s how do we keep us all together and get resources to families and that’s why we really created ‘Unified at Home’.”

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