Coronavirus update: Fresno Unified shuts down all schools until April 13 to prevent COVID-19 spread

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The Fresno Unified School District has closed all its schools from Monday, March 16, to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Superintendent Bob Nelson said classes would likely resume on April 16, when the district was expected to return from Spring Break.

Governor Newsom signed an executive order on Friday making sure schools will still get funding even with zero attendance, so schools will have the money to keep paying staff, and in Fresno, they can keep feeding kids who rely on them for most of their meals.

They haven't figured out how to do it yet, though, and they know the decision creates a major headache for parents who will now have to take time off.
"Hard-working people are hearing about this decision and recognizing that they are gonna have to make some gut-wrenchingly difficult decisions about how to make sure their kids are safe at home, and they can still stay economically viable in their home. That is no joke. I don't like that. I don't like asking families to make those decisions but I think, in the interest of public safety, we have to," said Nelson.

Officials are concerned the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the county is about to shoot up as more testing becomes available.

The decision came slowly for Fresno Unified, but once it did, it set off a rapid fire of other districts announcing closures.

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Economists have estimated school closures in the Valley could create an impact of a million dollars or more.

So far, the coronavirus has proven to have minimal impact on the youngest people.

But that also means students could easily become vectors, carrying the illness without knowing it and spreading it to other people who may be more vulnerable.

Nelson is encouraging students to stick to the concepts they've learned recently about social distancing and avoiding places with crowds.

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The closure affects 75,000 Fresno Unified students and their parents, many of who were surprised but thought the district was doing the right thing.

"We're worried about it but what's got to be has got to be done. Safety comes first," said one parent, Tony Garcia.

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Fresno Unified parents were surprised, but supportive of the school district's decison to close all schools.

District leaders will be discussing things over the weekend and they'll try to keep everyone updated on their plans.

One of the uncertainties going forward is whether they'll extend the school year.
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