Majority of Fresno Unified parents want their kids back in class

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- When school starts up again in August, it will be five months since campuses became empty.

But as long as there's not a sudden surge or second wave of COVID-19, most Fresno Unified parents and guardians want their kids back in class.

Fresno Unified Superintendent Bob Nelson said about 75% of parents and guardians who turned in surveys said returning to a normal school schedule is best for their student and family.

"We do not want to put our kids at risk for COVID-19 but schools feed kids, they provide mental health services, they provide access to primary health for kids," said Nelson.

Nelson said a hybrid schedule, where students would attend school a few days a week, isn't ideal for the district because making it fair and equitable would be such a challenge.

In addition, teachers would also have to balance both virtual instruction along with in-person teaching simultaneously.

Any technology glitches could be an issue.

One-fourth of parents surveyed feel it's best for their children to continue distance learning. The district is planning to accommodate them as part of the E Learn Academy.

On Wednesday, the state superintendent of schools, Tony Thurmond, said district leaders will decide how to open and when.

He is also working to help rural students with the tools they need to succeed, which involves more than providing a computer or iPad.

"There is a great need where there has not been access to internet. In many cases, that need cannot be addressed by a mobile hotspot because there isn't the infrastructure in many of those rural communities," said Thurmond.

RELATED: State Superintendent releases guidelines for reopening schools

Thurmond also acknowledged many parents need to return to work and it's important for their kids to be productive and expand their knowledge at school. Nelson agrees school provides more than academic growth.

"Working families need their kids to be safe and secure and be with people who love and care for them. School is the place for that. It doesn't do me any good to close schools and then open day cares because working families need a place to make their children present," he says.

About three-quarters of Fresno Unified staff surveyed also reported they wanted to return to class.

Fresno Unified board members discuss ways to bring students back to class safely

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On Wednesday night, Fresno Unified board members tried to gain some clarity as they discussed a proposed plan that would allow parents to choose how they want their kids to learn.

On Wednesday night, Fresno Unified board members tried to gain some clarity as they discussed a proposed plan that would allow parents to choose how they want their kids to learn.

"This is a plan that allows (some students) to go back to school full-time and allows others to stay home if they don't feel comfortable," said Nelson.

The Hybrid model is still being discussed.

School officials say they still don't have a set capacity on how many students campuses would be able to safely hold while maintaining proper protocols.

"I would feel more comfortable if we started for smaller groups and increased as the situation gets better, rather than everybody who wants to can," said one board member.

Signs in hallways, wearing masks, and self check-ups would also be included in the proposed plan.

Other ideas are staggering lunch breaks to reduce cafeteria crowds, disinfecting protocols, and shifting buses to highly impacted routes.

President of the Board, Keisha Thomas, said Wednesday was just a discussion, and she plans to do a walk-through of the campus to see some of the proposed changes on Thursday.

"I understand that we've done this planning, but I need to see what this will look like," she said.

Thomas said they hope to have a special meeting in July to make a decision and start notifying parents on what to expect come Fall.

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