Education Matters: What it takes to get Clovis Unified students back in the classroom


CLOVIS, California (KSEE) – As more school districts return to in-person learning, what many don’t see is the hard work it takes for a school to accommodate students during a pandemic.

For about 12,000 elementary students in the Clovis Unified School District, this has become the normal routine.

“They have been troopers just going and staying with the guidelines, they wear their mask, they wash their hands, they are being safe because they understand the pandemic,” said Gettysburg Elementary teacher Jennifer Drake

In October 2020, the Clovis Unified School District started a phase-in approach to bringing students back on campus for in-person learning.

“What we noticed as we journeyed through the process was that it looked very different at every school across our 34 elementary schools,” said Superintendent Eimear O’Farrell.

The school district devised a plan for each school. At Dry Creek Elementary, a school with 900 students, about 600 elected to return for in-person learning

“When the district provided us an opportunity to make it work at each individual school site, I was dependent upon my staff and asking for their input and finding what their concerns were,” said Principal Aaron Cook.

The school district did surveillance testing of teachers and staff, and contact tracing if someone became ill.

In the classroom, desks were moved out to meet the six feet distancing requirement, and teachers were called on to be very flexible. Parents appreciated the effort.

“I’ve never seen the kids be so happy to be in school and so I would say for me that made whatever we had to do worth it.”

Educators say as districts bring students back for in-person learning, the public needs to understand that there is no one-size-fits-all and each school’s plan may look different.

In February, Clovis Unified brought back an additional 2,300 elementary students and 8,000 secondary students.

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