Fresno Unified holds virtual town hall on school reopening

Education

FRESNO, California (KSEE) – Fresno Unified School District held a virtual town hall Wednesday night to discuss the future of their schools and what a return to campus would look like come Oct. 13 – if Fresno County can make it to the red tier in the reopening system.

Superintendent Bob Nelson said one topic that has caused confusion is the idea of applying for a waiver to allow students to return earlier.

“People were very excited about the waiver. Well frankly, the waiver is only TK through 6th grade, and there’s no universality of understanding around that,” said Nelson, “and if we go red, then the waiver a non-factor because the waiver is a factor of purple.”

Nelson said, once campuses do reopen, students will be allowed back in small groups, with some changes like testing and internal contact tracing.

Parents at the town hall asked what happens if the county moves backwards in the tier system after schools have already reopened? A district official addressed that concern.

“Once we go to red, and the schools are allowed to open, and then all of a sudden, the numbers go up and we get bounced back up to purple, the state says they do not have to close. Once again, we’ll be working closely with the schools if there is a school that has a lot of cases and stuff like that, but that will be an individual decision.”

Even if Fresno County moves further in the reopening process later in the school year, Nelson said the idea of bringing all students back to campus at once is still not realistic, since even in the least-restrictive yellow tier, students still need to be spaced six feet apart.

“As long as you’re asked to hold a six-foot restriction, you’re in a situation where, at best, you’re providing a hybrid model of education,” said Nelson.

The school district conducted a survey in June. At that time, about 75% of parents said they would be comfortable sending their kids back to school, but Nelson said they plan on doing another survey soon to get a better idea of that number.

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