Clovis · Education · Fresno

Newsom, Valley school districts at odds over shutting down schools for year

It appeared that, as of Wednesday afternoon, most California schools would be remain closed for the remainder of the school year, continuing to transition toward distance learning, heeding comments from State Superintendent Tony Thurmond and Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Local school districts, as of yet, don’t seem to universally be receiving the message.

Wednesday night, the Fresno Unified school board unanimously voted to close its school campuses for instruction through the conclusion of the 2019-2020 school year.

Manuel Bonilla, president of Fresno’s teachers union, supported Newsom’s push to keep schools closed through summer.

“Although schools are physically closed, we will continue to provide learning opportunities to our students via distance learning platforms,” he said in a statement.

The Kern County Superintendent of Schools announced that school districts within the county would also be shifting fully to distance learning technologies for the remainder of the school year, keeping schools closed.

Meanwhile, the Clovis Unified school board eschewed an outright closure for the remainder of the school year, voting to extend its temporary school closure from April 13 to May 1.

Two Valley school districts met before Thurmond and Newsom’s guidance. Central Unified and Visalia Unified, whose boards met last week, has its campuses closed through May 4.

Thursday, one day after Newsom’s announcement, Central Unified’s trustees voted to suspend in-class instruction through the 2019-2020 school year.

Rep. Devin Nunes (R–Tulare) characterized the decision to shut down schools for the remainder of the year as hasty.

“The schools were just canceled out here in California, which is way overkill,” Nunes said. “It’s possible kids could have gone back to school in two weeks to four weeks, but they just canceled the rest of the schools.”

School districts statewide have been sluggish in ramping up distance learning technologies and lesson plans for students. As of last week, some southern California school districts had yet to roll out distance learning plans at all.

Alex Tavlian
Alex Tavlian is the Executive Editor of The San Joaquin Valley Sun and Executive Director of Valley Future Foundation. You can reach Alex at alex.tavlian@sjvsun.com.