CUSD Board Discuss Reopening Plans

CUSD Boardmember Chris Casado responding to a concerned parent after sharing his concerns on reopening. (Courtesy of CUSD)

The Clovis Unified School District Board held their governing board meeting Wednesday, October 7. The topic at hand was the next steps to get kids back into school after the board submitted a waiver last week.

The waiver that allows students to go back to school has not yet been passed; the board hopes to hear back within the next week from California State officials to know what the status of returning to school will be.

To implement, the board has a ‘Return to In-Person Instruction Plan’, a model for re-opening. If the waiver passes, TK-6 will be allowed for in-person instruction regardless if Fresno County falls back into the purple Tier 1.

Special Education students are the ones who have been hindered most by the school’s shutdown. The first step of allowing special education to return to school was one-on-one meetings only twice a week. By October 14, a five-week return plan is in the works for the Autistic Preschool program, secondary level functioning life skills, and autism program, therapeutic intervention programs, Adult transition program Functional Life Skills.

By October 19, elementary Functioning Life Skills and autistic students can return to in-class instruction. On November 3, all severely disabled levels will have the option to return to school, with the implication of the 6-feet social distancing guidelines in place since most of these students have underlying health issues.

For general education, there will be a hybrid schedule. Meaning, parents have the option for their children to continue doing distance learning or they can have their children return to the classroom with modifications.

Associate Superintendent for School Leadership, Corrine Folmer presented an AM/PM schedule to the board. It is a half-day schedule; it will also consist of a rotating block schedule where students will alternate days coming in.

Wednesdays will be designated for Zoom Day with the whole class; these plans were ideas that were a consensus among teachers.

The upside is that teachers can better communicate in-person lessons with students and give instruction for the independent work time for when students are not in the classroom.

Students will not have a standard recess but will be allowed to take mask breaks outside of the classrooms with the 6-feet rule.

Secondary schools will be given similar options as well with a three choice model. The third being similar to the TK-6 model with an AM/PM schedule. If Fresno County falls back into the purple tier one, the secondary schools will cease to return to in-person instruction, unlike primary school.

Many residents shared their concern for students returning to school, one being a bus driver. The concern was how students and drivers would practice social distancing while commuting to schools when a bus holds 50 students at a time. 

Another was a concerned father, who feels the plan to reopen was rushed and is more of a political agenda for the board.

“I’m extremely concerned with the plan in place to bring our primary grades back to campus. I ask you as a board two questions; one, how many of you currently have students enrolled in Clovis Unified? And two how many of you are teachers? I ask these questions because I don’t believe any of you can possibly understand what we as parents and children have gone through the last six or seven months with regards to school,” the concerned father said.

The board did not see eye-to-eye with the statement and felt as though their decision is based on advocating for students.

High school students also chimed in with their concerns that in-person teaching should not occur in the next coming month and instead wait until the next semester because of exposure to other students.

Board member Steven Fogg made it clear that students will have a choice.

“That’s what’s frustrating,” says Board Member Fogg. “We think our choice is always the best. We think our choice should be your choice and that’s what we are kind of struggling with as a board, because we are trying to give choices.”

Simultaneously, because high school students have seven different subjects with different instructors, splitting online and having a hybrid schedule is not an option.

Taking in all the concerns from all the public speakers, the board will discuss further what they can do to provide more information to concerned parents and students.

They will continue planning for re-opening, utilizing the hybrid schedule model.

Tori Lavon is a Multimedia Journalist from Reedley, California. She received her Bachelor's in Mass Communications and Journalism with an emphasis in Broadcasting from California State University, Fresno. Currently, she is a radio intern at One Putt Broadcasting. On occasion, Tori has the opportunity to be on-air with talent. She is getting her start in media. She has a passion for reporting, photography, and videography. Tori also has a love for art; she loves to draw, paint, and does pottery on the side. One day she hopes she can be on-air talent at a radio station as well.