Central Unified School District may see K-6 students back on campus by end of March

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Getting kids back to school has been a controversial issue since the start of the pandemic.

Central Unified School District planned to have students back in school in April, but now district officials say there's a chance some students may return by the end of March.

District officials said they are working to make sure staff and students feel safe, and that included a two-day vaccine clinic for all employees on Wednesday and Thursday.

Among the hundreds who received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine was Alejandra Velasco, a custodian.

"I'm just glad and I'm just glad also for my coworkers that are coming here and getting the shot, and we'll be protected once the kids come into school, you know," said Velasco.

Velasco said her 74-year-old mother lives with her and also works for the school district. After seeing her mother get her shot elsewhere, it encouraged her to get vaccinated herself.

She was thankful the district and United Health Centers organized the event.

"It's a good feeling. It's a good feeling," she said.

Central Unified School District Superintendent Andrew Alvarado said 1,000 of the district's roughly 1,600 total staff members registered to get vaccinated during the two-day event.

"I think it's going to help, you know, ease the minds of many of our employees just being able to get vaccinated, this first dose." Alvarado said.

Alvarado said some opted out because they've already received the vaccine.

Even with the added protection, Alvarado said, for now, the district is sticking with the plan to bring K-6 students back when Fresno county reaches the red tier.

They had planned to bring middle and high school students back when the county reaches the orange tier, but he said the school board would likely discuss bringing them back in the red tier at the upcoming board meeting on March 9th.

Alvarado said if the county's COVID-19 cases continue trending downward and we reach the red tier by next week, at the earliest, K-6 students could head back to school on March 22.

"I just want them to know that we're doing everything that we can and that we need to in order to bring our kids back." said Alvarado.

For those staff members like Velasco, she hopes getting vaccinated helps the county so they can get back to somewhat of a normal school year.

"Especially with the kids, you know, we want the kids to come back to school, and we miss them." Velasco said.

District officials said if our county numbers continue in a downward trend, they're confident about starting to get students back to school by the end of the month; however, if students do come back on March 22nd, they'll only be on campus for a week before they go on spring break March 29 - April 9.
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