The Clovis Unified School District board voted Wednesday evening to extend school closures for the rest of the school year, ending June 5.
Clovis Unified closed its doors in March in an effort to slow the spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus, but throughout the process, board trustees did not give up hope that school might return before the end of the school year.
“No one on this board wanted to close our schools. We prayed for a miracle that this would be over, and we could open schools before the end of the year,” Trustee Steven Fogg said in a statement to the board before the vote.
The decision was not a surprise as it came just days after district superintendent Dr. Eimear O’Farrell declared in a video on the district’s Facebook page last Saturday that she would recommend the board take the action.
Also before the vote, several board members shared thoughts about how distance learning has gone since schools were closed.
Trustee Ginny Hovsepian said she has been concerned about students falling behind and is pleased that the district is planning to resume in-person classes when the next school year begins Aug. 17.
“I am concerned about the digital divide and the achievement gap. I believe it is getting wider in these last few months,” Hovsepian said. “We need to get back and I am thrilled to hear the administration is putting together a plan that we start school on August 17 and the Jefferson Bell will ring that morning and the students will be back in the classrooms with a teacher in front of them.”
She acknowledged that there may be some safety concerns with on-site learning resuming, but was confident that the district would be able to address them properly.
“There will be hiccups and issues to cover but I have full faith that the administration will carefully think about those and bring us through that so that August 17, the buses will be rolling and there will be students on those buses.”
Board Vice President Tiffany Stoker Madsen said that she, too, was hoping for a return to on-site learning before the end of the school year, in order to provide closure to teachers that miss their students.
“I know teachers that wanted their kids to come back, just to say goodbye, to have some sort of closure to the year,” she said.
CUSD will continue distance learning through Friday, and the final two weeks of the school year will be reserved for students to do makeup or end-of-year work, as is typical during any school year.