Fresno Unified 'discussing' starting school year completely online, Superintendent says

The decision to go fully digital, however, is not final.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The Fresno Unified School District was expected to unveil its back to school plan on Friday.

FUSD campuses may sit empty long past August 17, when schools are scheduled to re-open.

Because of the steady rise in COVID-19 cases, Superintendent Bob Nelson was leaning towards remote learning but felt students still need to meet their new teachers.

Nelson said, "Our kids don't even know their new teacher. It's really hard to draw on a relationship when they haven't met the new teacher yet. The family hasn't met the new teacher, so there will be absolutely be a need to bring kids back in some safe way."

Teachers would be okay with the meetings as long as safety was a priority,

The Fresno Teachers Associated surveyed members to see if they preferred on-line or on-campus teaching.

FTA President Manuel Bonilla said, "Close to 90% agreed that we should not physically re-open our schools unless we could do so safely under CDC and other health guidelines."

Nelson met with local health and hospital officials, who noted some of the COVID surges were seen in large congregations like prisons and nursing homes.

He explained, "I think putting kids in a situation where numbers continue to climb would be irresponsible if you're just not being mindful of how many kids are coming back into that space."

Bonilla added, "Based on all the local numbers, based on the ability to re-open our schools safely, I just don't see any other option but distance learning."

The teachers union believed school could only open in a digital form.

Nelson agreed for the most part because getting kids to wear masks and keeping them all apart would be too difficult.

Nelson said, "Six feet is the magic number. I can't bring a full classroom of kids back and try to social distance them at six feet. The mathematics simply don't jibe."

Nelson said he'll be ready to announce the district's plan in detail on Friday.
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