Clovis · Education · Fresno · Visalia

Valley schools weighing options to remain closed into May

School districts across the Central Valley are considering extending their dates to reopen into May.

Central Unified looks to be the first major district to take action. The district closed its schools on March 16 with a plan to reopen on April 21, and the board is holding a special meeting Thursday evening to discuss extending the closure to May 1.

The board will consider adopting a resolution that would give Superintendent Andy Alvarado the ability to open schools earlier after consulting with local, state and federal officials if conditions improved. Alvarado would also have the power to declare a local emergency and assign district employees to disaster service activities.

Clovis Unified shut its doors on March 16 with the plan to reopen on April 14, following Spring Break.

District spokeswoman Kelly Avants told GV WIre that the district will follow the advice of local health officials and discuss the issue at its regular board meeting on April 1.

Fresno Unified schools have been closed since March 16 and with the initial plan to reopen on April 14. FUSD spokeswoman Vanessa Ramirez told The Sun in an email that the district will hold a special board meeting on April 1 to evaluate the situation.

“We are in daily contact with state and local agencies, as well as neighboring county superintendents as we continue to evaluate our April 14 return date,” Ramirez said. “The health and well-being of our entire community is of the utmost importance to our leadership and Board of Trustees. For that reason, our Board of Trustees will be discussing our return to school date at the special board meeting on April 1st.”

In the meantime, the district has been distributing meals to students and their families every weekday, but it plans to halt the program over Spring Break, April 6-13.

Kern County Superintendent of Schools Mary Barlow announced Wednesday that she recommends the county’s 47 school districts remain closed through at least May 1.

All 47 public school districts in Kern County have been closed since March 18 and were initially set to reopen on April 14.

“KCSOS’s leadership team and Kern’s 47 district superintendents are meeting daily through Zoom video conferencing and are problem solving in real time,” said Barlow in a press release. “We are learning from one another, adjusting plans daily and will be ready for any eventuality, including school closures beyond the May 1, 2020, recommendation. We hope it does not come to that, but we will be prepared, if the governor and/or public health officials advise that school closures should be extended as we move forward.”

Visalia Unified also closed its schools on March 16 with the initial plan to reopen on April 13.

VUSD announced Thursday that the board will hold a special meeting Friday evening to consider a resolution that would extend the closure through May 1. If the resolution is passed, schools would reopen on May 4.

“Visalia Unified realizes that the school closure significantly impacts our families and our community; however, we believe this to be the best course of action to help reduce the potential spread of the virus,” said VUSD in a press release. We will continue to communicate updated information with our community as it becomes available.”

Daniel Gligich
Daniel Gligich is a reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun, focusing on Fresno State Athletics and the southern San Joaquin Valley. Email him at daniel.gligich@sjvsun.com.