Fresno Unified joins urban school districts in letter to Gov. Newsom

February 07 2021 03:30 pm

FRESNO, California (KSEE) – As schools reopen and try to get back to some kind of normalcy, the Fresno Unified School District joined other California school districts with a letter to the governor asking for additional steps in his reopening plans for schools.

On Dec. 30, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the “Safe Schools for All” plan, encouraging more schools to reopen for in-person instruction.

“But the devil is in the details.  So, one of the things that is very difficult about this plan is it kind of singles out urban districts as having a more difficult time returning,” said Superintendent Bob Nelson of the Fresno Unified School District.

Only counties with fewer than 28 positive coronavirus cases per 100,000 people can participate.

“We’re not even in a situation where we can be considered and that’s why we think this is kind of unfair to major urbans because the bigger the population in a given area it is proven the higher the COVID numbers.”

A letter to the governor lists additional detailed steps to the reopening plan such as recovery efforts from school shutdowns, state safety standards, as well as continuous efforts to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Newsom’s plan asks school districts to determine safety measures on their own.

“We agree with the governor. There’s nothing better than kids being back in school, I mean fundamentally that is true, what “safe” means is not something that 1,037 districts should have to decide of their own volition.”

Newsom’s plan begins phasing in students Feb. 15 for transitional kindergarten through second grade, and for grades third to sixth beginning March 15. The Fresno Unified superintendent says for that to even be a chance of happening, school staff needs to be considered essential.

“The bottom line is if the state of California wants kids back in school, we need to be on the vaccination schedule. We never need to take the place of medical professionals or people doing that work, but if you want to have kids back in school, we need to be somewhere on that schedule.”

The letter also asks that information of meeting requests be published by Feb. 1. It is signed by the Fresno, Los Angeles, San Diego, Long Beach, San Francisco, Sacramento, and Oakland Unified districts.

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