Fresno Unified outlines plan for fall, local family faces virtual learning challenges


FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE) – Fresno Unified Superintendent Bob Nelson discussed the district’s virtual learning plan on Monday as schools prepare to hold classes online in one week.

Students will have live virtual instruction throughout the week, and teachers will hold office hours for families twice a week.

Middle and high school students will be on a block schedule. The first two days of instruction will be orientation so that students can begin to develop relationships, Nelson said.

He said the schedules are meant to meet student needs, including exercise, peer-to-peer connection and the chance to explore their own personal interests.

“We expect to grow and learn and develop as we go,” Nelson said.

In addition, breakfast and lunch will be provided at 63 school sites between 7 a.m. & 9 a.m. Monday through Friday.

With the many changes educators and students will have to adapt to, families are facing challenges as they prepare for the start of the school year.

Margarita Bravo is a mother of three — her two sons attend school within Fresno Unified. Her daughter Gloria Cervantez is a Fresno Unified graduate and just started her first semester of college.

Bravo said her biggest concern is not having Wi-Fi for all three of her children.

“I don’t have the means to have internet for all three of them,” Bravo said.

Nelson on Monday said the district has been able to distribute 3,000 hotspots to families, but Bravo said she didn’t know that was a resource that was available.

Another issue families face is the language barrier.

Bravo speaks mostly Spanish, and she said she’s worried it could get more difficult for her to communicate with teachers with virtual learning.

Nelson said it’s something they’re working on.

“It’s one thing to speak basic, conversational Spanish, but what we need is people who can do that as well as do the academic Spanish that we need, in terms of moving our instructional work forward and not kind of relying upon kids to carry the translations,” Nelson said.

Manuel Bonilla, the president of the Fresno Teachers Association, said they’ve been pushing for better resources for families who don’t speak Spanish.

“We have advocated from the very beginning for better translation services and programs, whether that would be apps or whatever other softwares provided by the school district, in addition to that, the training so that way educators feel comfortable to use that,” Bonilla said. “I hope that we’re there by the beginning of the school year because it’s something that’s absolutely needed.”

Gloria Cervantez said on top of taking college classes, she’s going to take on the responsibility of helping with virtual learning for her two younger brothers. One of her brothers, Esteban, is deaf and will be having one-on-one virtual learning, Gloria said.

“One advantage that a student with special needs has is they have an individualized educational program which is specifically set up for them,” Nelson said. “That case manager has to make sure that all the needs that child has are not ignored.”

Bravo said she has faith and hopes things will get better so that her children don’t fall behind with school.

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