Fresno Unified School District is moving ahead with two options for the upcoming school year as the coronavirus pandemic breeds uncertainty: fully online learning or on-campus learning.
The district will not offer a hybrid model, Superintendent Bob Nelson said Tuesday.
“It’s a synchronous online model similar to that which is being proposed by our higher education partners at Fresno State, Fresno City and the like,” Nelson said.
Nelson called the online learning module a “more robust option” than the district’s distance learning plan that was instituted in March after Fresno Unified shut down on-campus classes.
With school set to begin on Aug. 17, Fresno Unified is asking parents who want to have their children participate in online learning to submit a form online to reserve a seat in the online program.
The form is currently on Fresno Unified’s website, and parents have until July 31 to submit it. If parents do not submit the form, the district will take that to mean that those children will be returning to campus in the fall. Parents can also call 457-3395 to inform the district of their choice.
“At some point in the near or remote future, we will come back to school,” Nelson said. “We are not going to pursue digital learning into perpetuity, so we’re wondering what people’s interest level is right now.”
The school district is also sending out a survey to teachers to gauge who will be eligible and interested in providing online instruction for those students who participate in the online module. Nelson said the teachers union previously told the district that 85% of the staff wants to return to campus.
The online learning module will keep students connected to their school site through communication software Microsoft Teams. Teachers will take attendance daily, and students will attend the online school during regular school hours, following a similar schedule to if they were on-campus.
“The intent is for teachers to use our Fresno Unified curriculum and lessons, and we absolutely anticipate giving our students and families the opportunity to return to a traditional on-campus model at a safe time at designated times throughout the school year,” Nelson said.
In a Junes press conference, Nelson previously detailed the district’s plan for the return to on-campus learning, which includes a face mask requirement, physical distancing in classrooms and hallways and an effort to hold more activities outdoors, among other plans.
Nelson said the district plans to hold a town hall with parents of special education students to discuss plans for the upcoming school year.
Although Fresno Unified is planning on the Aug. 17 start, Nelson admitted that there is the possibility that the date could be postponed if something like another shelter-in-place order comes down from the state or city.