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Education

Fresno Unified Return To In-Person Learning Depends On Improved Health Tier

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The Fresno Unified School District announced a potential reopening plan Tuesday for in-person learning. The new agreement between the district and the Fresno Teachers Association outlines a return to a hybrid model that includes in-person instruction by April 6th. 

Superintendent Bob Nelson says the increased ability to vaccinate all district employees changed the conversation. 

“This time last week, I could not have reasonably said we were going to vaccinate everybody by March. Today I can and that’s a huge change,” he said.

The district has partnered with Valley Children’s Healthcare and United Health Centers to provide thousands of weekly vaccines. All Fresno Unified employees are expected to have access to at least their first dose by the end of March. 

Families who don’t want their students to return to campus can still opt for distance learning. The superintendent says the district must first assess how many want to be back on campus.

“We’ll take everybody’s registration, figure out what those numbers are and then try to staff appropriate to what those sizes are going to be,” he said. 

But a full return isn’t guaranteed. Right now, Fresno County remains in the purple tier and district officials can only return if they reach the red tier by April.

“That’s the reality of what we negotiated. Now, if we don't make it there, we’re going to have to re-engage on this conversation ahead,” he said. 

For now, the district will be keeping an eye on Governor Newsom’s school reopening guidelines in AB 86, a $6 billion initiative to get schools back to in-person learning and extend classes into the summer.  

The legislation will be signed on Thursday. Fresno Unified expects to receive $25.6 million for an in-person returning grant and another $54 million for expansion and learning programs.