Fresno Unified parents purchase billboards advocating for in-person learning 5 days a week

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Parent frustration is on full display in North Fresno.

"This resulted from the frustrations of the parents with the online learning environment, which isn't working," says Marcelino Valdez.

In an effort to get the attention of the school board and teachers association, "Parents for Reopening Fresno Unified" purchased the billboard on the corner of Shaw and Blackstone. They say a two-day-per-week return isn't enough.

"It's led to too much learning loss and we don't see a light at the end of the tunnel," Valdez said. "Our parents felt they needed to do something."

Almost 700 parents have joined the efforts on the online Facebook group, saying the district and teachers association could and should do more.

In a statement, Fresno Teachers Association President Manuel Bonilla says in part, "We believe that the vast majority of teachers, staff, parents, and community members approve of the collaborative process and the balanced approach to re-opening schools for in-person instruction in the midst of a pandemic. "

Priscilla Cullers has a first and 4th grader and says being back on campus is about more than education.

"It teaches them to be accountable to teachers," she said. "Turning in homework teaches them the importance of deadlines. There are so many different things school teaches them."

Fresno Unified denied our request for comment citing the holiday, but superintendent Bob Nelson has been vocal in the past about putting student safety first.

"More than ever, this year has taught us to lean in be flexible and to support one another," Nelson said on social media.

Through social media, the district has been working to keep Fresno Unified families informed of changes district and county-wide. Nelson addressed the CDCs updated 3-foot social distancing recommendation.

"We are aware that the CDC has issued new guidelines in terms of social distancing and new guidance is available, and we're utilizing those guidelines now," he said.

Superintendent Nelson says those modifications will be made to push for outdoor graduation ceremonies and summer learning opportunities with full time in-person instruction.
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