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Face Masks, One-Way Hallways Proposed in Fresno School Reopening Plan



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Hallways would be marked with one-way signs, facial masks would be “strongly encouraged/required,” and football player conditioning could begin as soon as Monday under a proposed Fresno Unified schools reopening plan that trustees will consider at tonight’s board meeting.

The plan includes the results of recent surveys showing that parents, students, and staff are pretty much on the same page when it comes to face-to-face versus virtual instruction. Three-fourths of the parents and students and 72% of the staff surveyed said they prefer in-classroom learning “with health and safety rules in place.”

Parents who want their children to participate in extra-curricular activities such as football would need to sign liability waivers in the event their child becomes ill with COVID-19 through the activity.

According to the proposed reopening plan, district athletic and co-curricular participants will start workouts next Monday under a three-phase plan. In phase 1, “pods” of students will be limited to no more than 10, and students will start with outside conditioning only.

Educating Kids with Special Needs

But whereas the plan provides specificity about athletics, there is a noticeable lack of detail about how Fresno Unified will instruct special education students and English learners in the event schools need to move to staggered schedules or close again altogether. The plan says only “Delivery models for SPED and EL Learners” in a section called “Major Decision Considerations.”

Parents of special needs children said they have struggled to keep their children on track after schools closed in March.

The reopening plan contains checklists for “health and safety practices” such as hall pass restrictions, staggered arrivals, departures, and lunches, and making sure staff members take their mandated lunches and breaks; flowcharts for how to screen students and staff for the coronavirus, and how to isolate students who may be sick; and a flowchart “Decision Tree” in the event of a new coronavirus outbreak.

If the number of coronavirus cases in Fresno County expands rapidly, students may be instructed using a hybrid model, with some days in class and other days spent in online learning. The district plans to provide online instruction through the expansion of its eLearn Academy.

An outbreak at a specific school would cause that school to be closed, while a general outbreak would close all schools.

Can Kids Tolerate Face Masks?

Face masks might not be feasible, especially for younger children, one parent tells the district. DeAuna Marks submitted a public comment to the trustees detailing an experiment with her 8-year-old twins and 5-year-old to see how long they could tolerate wearing a face mask. The reward for the child who could wear the mask the longest was a sweet treat, she said.

The 5-year-old lasted 10 minutes before pulling off her mask, and the twins made it only five minutes more before their masks came off and they gasped for air, Marks wrote.

“Let me be clear in that the masks were the very thin Target masks, said to be the most breathable. Please consider this little experiment with 3 of your FUSD elementary kids when considering your protocol for the upcoming school year,” Marks wrote.

The board meeting is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. tonight and will be held via teleconferencing. It may be viewed online at http://go.fresnounified.org/ustream/, on the Ustream App on smartphones, or on Comcast Xfinity Channel 94 or AT&T U-Verse Channel 99.

Fresno Unified Schools Reopening Plan (Text)

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