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Distance Learning Resumes for Fresno, Clovis Students on Tuesday

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Spring break ends on Tuesday when students in Fresno and Clovis schools will go back to distance learning, but some will work more independently than others.

In Fresno Unified, some students will interact with their teachers in online classes for the first time since March 16 when schools were closed because of the COVID-19 epidemic.

One Bullard High teacher sent a voicemail Monday to her geometry students, telling them that class would be in session on Tuesday and suggesting that they test out the Microsoft Teams teleconference app and review the materials that would be covered in class.

But not every student has access to a device for online learning, Manuel Bonilla, head of the Fresno Teachers Association, said Monday.

“The district has released its technology distribution calendar,” he said. “Obviously, trying to get tech to 74,000 students is not something you’re going to do overnight.”

Elementary Schools Are in Final Group

According to that calendar, the final group of schools — Centennial, Del Mar, Heaton, Holland, Homan, Muir, Pyle, Robinson, Roeding, Thomas, Williams, Wilson, and Wolters elementary schools — are scheduled to start issuing devices to students and their families on April 22.

Teachers have gone “above and beyond” to contact their students and provide learning opportunities since schools were closed because of the coronavirus, Bonilla said.

But that’s not happening district-wide, said Carmen Zamora, a southeast Fresno parent with a son attending Edison High and another son in kindergarten at Balderas Elementary.

Zamora, a member of GO Public Schools Fresno, an education advocacy nonprofit, said her high schooler son has received one assignment from an AP teacher at Edison but has had no online teleconferencing sessions.

Zamora’s younger son, who is struggling with reading, has not gotten any specialized assignments from his teacher. And, it took the teacher more than two weeks after schools closed to contact her, she said.

Frustrated Parents Turn to Videos

Zamora said parents are planning to put pressure on Fresno Unified about teachers who aren’t connecting with their students by posting videos “every single day” on Facebook.

Officials with Fresno Unified did not respond to requests for comment by email or phone Monday.

In lieu of individual teachers providing curriculum for students, the district posted a centralized curriculum schedule for all grade levels starting March 18.

But because not all students have access to the internet or to a computer or tablet, the district said the coursework was optional and would not be graded.

Last week Superintendent Bob Nelson confirmed that schoolwork after the third quarter of the current semester would not be counted toward a student’s final grade, unless the student was providing work for extra credit to raise his or her grade-point average. Students who earn a D will get a passing grade, not a letter grade.

Fresno Unified is following the guidance set out by the state Department of Education.

Clovis Unified Teachers Have Full-Day ‘Office Hours’

Prior to spring break, many Clovis Unified teachers were conducting classes and scheduling office hours online using the Zoom teleconferencing app.

“All of our teachers are continuing to be available for office hours between 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. every weekday, and to regularly engage with their students in distance learning,” spokeswoman Kelly Avants said by email Monday. “High school is going to look a little different than elementary and other specialized classes, but the teacher availability is the same across the board.

“We’ve distributed technology to many of our students whose families have expressed a need for it, and I’m in the process of confirming that we are done doing so.”

Clovis Unified’s board has extended its school closings until May 4, unlike most other districts in the region that decided to keep schools closed through the end of the school year in June. The board’s next meeting is scheduled for April 22.

Nancy Price is a multimedia journalist for GV Wire. A longtime reporter and editor who has worked for newspapers in California, Florida, Alaska, Illinois and Kansas, Nancy joined GV Wire in July 2019. She previously worked as an assistant metro editor for 13 years at The Fresno Bee. Nancy earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. Her hobbies include singing with the Fresno Master Chorale and volunteering with Fresno Filmworks. You can reach Nancy at 559-492-4087 or Send an Email