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April 20, 2020

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Photo of the Week

Staff distributing laptops
Laptop distribution at Easterby Elementary School

Video of the Week

Video of the week
Health Update Video

Dates to Know

May 6 – via live streaming (see website for time)
Board of Education


Welcome to Community Zone, an e-newsletter from the Fresno Unified School District featuring news of the district and schools. Sign up to receive this newsletter every two weeks. Questions? Contact

Community News

Superintendent's Video Message on Grading

Superintendent Bob NelsonSuperintendent Bob Nelson highlights the district's plans for student grading following the closure of schools and the launch of distant learning.
Video from Superintendent Nelson on Grading

FAQs on COVID-19 and Schools

The district has recently update the frequently asked questions around district and school operations during the COVID-19 closure.
Updated Frequently Asked Questions about School Closures

Fresno Unified News in 60 Seconds Video

The latest edition of 60 Seconds with Fresno Unified features recognition of staff, especially from Food Services, Information Technology, the COVID-19 call center and telecommunications.
Fresno Unified News in 60 Seconds Video

College and Career Readiness Newsletter Available

Please click the link for the Career Technical Education Newsletter Spring 2020 Edition from College and Career Readiness.​
Career Technical Education Newsletter

Emotional Support Available during COVID-19

The district would like to remind employees and the students and families they come in contact with that various resources are available for the range of emotional issues that can arise from the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic. Resources include:

Central Valley Suicide Prevention Hotline|

The Crisis Text Line is accessible by texting "HOME" to 741741. Assistance is available via text 24/7.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Fresno County's Department of Behavioral Health Warm Line provides non-emergency emotional and coping support. (559) 600-WARM.
Flyer on County COVID-19 Warm Line
Flyer on County COVID-19 Warm Line in Spanish
Flyer on County COVID-19 Warm Line in Hmong

District Recognizes National Occupational Therapy Month

Occupational Therapy Logo April is National Occupational Therapy Month, an opportunity to recognize the hard work of the district's occupational therapists and partners. Occupational therapy is a vital profession that helps people across the lifespan to do the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of daily activities (occupations). Occupational therapy practitioners enable people of all ages to live life to its fullest by helping them promote health and prevent -- or live better with -- injury, illness, or disability. Common occupational therapy interventions include helping children with disabilities to participate fully in school and social situations, helping people recovering from an injury to regain skills, and providing support for older adults experiencing physical and cognitive changes.​Fresno Unified has amazing therapists who go above and beyond for students and family. Thank you to Fresno Unified occupational therapists Natalie Turner, Anthony Sassano, Aleek Karkazian, Losthongsanh Mouanoutoua​​, and Ivy Vasquez.  Thank you as well to district partner John Goodfellow and his dedicated occupational therapists Ann English Weaver, ​​Becky Crouch, Amanda Trejo, Erica​ Rubio, Karen Jhutti, Molly Villasenor, and Lisa Ladd

Superintendent Board Remarks from April 15, 2020

Superintendent Bob Nelson Superintendent Bob Nelson provided a brief report to the Fresno Unified Board of Education including:

• Highlighting that due to the COVID-19 crisis, the loss in revenue is not  going to be easy to handle but our Business and Administrative Services team is leading the way across the state and federal landscape with some modeling and planning, anticipating student and staff needs and considering  possible risks and offsets. Thank you, Deputy Superintendent Ruthie Quinto and her team, for setting our district up to deal with a crisis such as this, and for leading the way.
• Next, the superintendent recognized the work of Food Services team during this time. They show up every weekday to feed our community with love and compassion. Since the beginning of school closure, we have served over ONE MILLION meals for our community. More than 85% of those meals have gone directly to students, with the other 15% serving other family members in need at this time. Thank you to our partners at Fresno EOC, Every Neighborhood Partnership, and our faith community for stepping up and serving our families on Good Friday while our food services team and site leaders took a much-needed holiday.

• Superintendent Nelson stated that since the beginning of school closure, the Parent University team has been manning our COVID-19 call center.  A total of 17 staff members have been answering calls and supporting parents in English, Spanish and Hmong. As the frontline of crisis response to the many questions of our families, students and community, this team has been strong and taking care of one another during this heavy lift. Since the call center was set up on Saturday, March 14, they have taken over 7,500 calls.

• Superintendent shared that the ATLAS/LCD help desk has been fielding calls from families and students as well to help with technology need during this unprecedented time. In February, they took 700 calls and then experienced a huge jump to over 2,400 calls in March.  In just the first half of April, they have received over 3,000 calls. All of this has been done with two permanent staff plus help from others from the technology team. Technology is working on setting up a call center specifically for technology support. Thank you, technology team and site leadership teams for getting out an additional 10,000 devices since the beginning of school closure.

• Superintendent Nelson highlighted that more than 2,000 educators registered for professional learning to build their skills in providing distance learning, the number of students engaging in online learning growing each week, and seeing our teachers finding creative and innovative ways to engage with their students. We recommend checking our website as often as possible and following along on social media for regular updates. Also, for parents, please ensure your phone number and email is up to date in the ATLAS Parent Portal to ensure you are getting SchoolMessenger calls and Rapid Alert text messages for crucial information. For specific updates on grading, IEPs, and SPED services, please head to our COVID-19 webpage on the Fresno Unified website.

• Last, Superintendent Nelson congratulated Principal Rebecca Wheeler and Executive Assistant Annette Montague for moving on to the next phase to compete for Fresno County Educator of the Year Award.  Additionally, he congratulated the Communications team for receiving three awards at the 2020 Cal-SPRA Excellence in Communications Awards. They received two awards of merit for efforts around teacher recruitment and Employee Zone newsletter and an award of excellence for visual communications for the retiree celebration. The district is still working on scholarship applications and will be announcing recipients in the coming weeks. Early learning registration is available via phone and electronically for the 20/21 school year. Details are available at the early learning page on our website.

Full Board Meeting Recap

School Buzz

Fresno High Female Construction Students Win Challenge

Fresno High construction students Fresno High School's construction students competed for the first time in the National Association of Women in Construction 2020 doghouse competition earlier this month, emerging as champions. Arianna Arias, Ruby Mendez, Ayanna Moore and Gabriela Vasquez, from Fresno High's Construction, Design, and Architecture Technology Academy, beat female construction students from Clovis High School, breaking Clovis High's win streak. The winner was announced March 12. The doghouse was donated to a local no-kill animal shelter.

Edison Students Medal at History Day

Edison High students Edison High School students excelled at the Fresno County History Day competition. All winners and runners-up qualify for the online state competition May 9. Student award:

• Third place, Individual Exhibit about Brown v. Topeka Board of Ed:Sofia James
• Third place, Historical Paper about Shirley Chisolm: Cheyenne Graves
• Third place, Group Documentary about the internet-: Omar Lara, Cody Heinks, Stephan Harris
• Third place, Group Performance about Loving v. Virginia: Dominic Samaniego, Kendall Hergenroeder, Sabrina Ponce, Venus Xiong, and Ryan Nunes
• Runner up, Group Website about Louis Pasteur: Bella Threlkeld, Mateo Caro, Moses Castillo, Chris Faught
• Co-champion, Individual Website on Edith Irby Jones: Alena Cotton
• Co-champion, Individual Website on gay rights: Alyssa Hayashi
• Co-champion, Group Documentary on the Berlin Wall: Mark Sanchez, Jefferson Sok
• Co-champion, Group Documentary on women's suffrage: Luis Guzman, Maricela Carrillo
• Co-champion, Group Website on the Human Genome Project: Janette Salazar, Hli Vue, Daisy Mejia, Tiwat Ratanasamlee
• Co-champion, Group Exhibit about the Third World Liberation Front: Lucy Chielpegian, Gia Finkle, Kelly Alfaro, Mia Robles
• Co-champion, Group Performance about Muslim discrimination after 9/11: Cyrus Najmi-Vaninni, Esteban Benitez, Rafael Bryant, Oscar Arellano, Younus Ahmad
• Co-champion, Group Performance about Marie Curie: Cruz Soto, Leo Paragili, Michael Salazar, Laura Heyano, and Timothy Reyna
• Co-champion, Group Performance about removing the marital exception to rape laws: Emma Pitcher, Austin Kern, Tyler Mrkaich

Roosevelt Art Students Create Portraits of Malaysian Children

Hands raising portraits Roosevelt High School/Roosevelt School of the Arts art teacher Brandi Capuchino-Mendoza worked with The Memory Project to have her students create portraits of children from a refugee school in Malaysia and send them to the children. The children loved them, sending a video showing their excitement and appreciation. The children understood that creating the portraits was a way to show them how much the Roosevelt students care about their well-being and their future.
Roosevelt Students Send Portraits to Children in Malaysia Video

Fresno High School Wins Civic Learning Award

Fresno High LogoFresno High School was among 14 schools in Clovis and Fresno whose accomplishments earned them awards of merit in the 2020 Civic Learning Awards. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond's recognition of California schools that won the 2020 Civic Learning Awards came last month just as the COVID-19 crisis was exploding, causing districts to close schools abruptly and Californians to shelter at home.

The Civic Learning Awards program, co-sponsored by Thurmond and Chief Justice of California Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye, recognizes schools that engage students in civic learning through strong civics curriculum and service-learning projects in their communities. It might be a while before students can venture out again on service projects, although some are still helping out even now by sewing masks, making cards, and donating blood.

Duncan Nursing Students Excel at Distance Learning

Students in the Nursing Services career pathway at Duncan Polytechnical High School have been pushing forward with class instruction through distance learning, including taking practice exams, recording skills videos and meeting via Zoom.
More on Duncan Nursing Services (photos of students together were taken prior)

Yosemite Rolls Out TP Video

Staff at Yosemite Middle School created a video for their students' enjoyment and posted it on social media.
Yosemite Staff Video

Columbia Teacher Awarded Money for Students

LIsa PierceLisa Pierce, a teacher at Columbia Elementary School, received $1,000 from Donors Choose to buy supplies for her students to use as they study at home. Using a Walmart gift card, she will purchase books, paper, pencils, flashcards, and more for each student.  

Employer of Choice

Roosevelt Teacher Honored for Virtual Teaching

Chelsea Bonilla teaching class Roosevelt High School teacher Chelsea Bonilla was honored by Computer-Using Educators (CUE) with the 2020 LeRoy Finkel Fellow Award, or LeRoy's Big Idea, for her project on teaching with virtual reality. LeRoy's Big Idea is intended to promote leadership in the field of educational technology. Chelsea has developed a virtual reality lab at Roosevelt where students can immerse themselves in learning experiences. This has included experiencing moments and monumental places from the Civil Rights Movement such as Ebenezer Baptist Church, the March on Washington, and the Selma to Montgomery marches. She used Google Expeditions to curate the experience and she supplemented the Google Expedition with ambient sound from YouTube clips. Public Service pathway students visited the virtual reality lab to ride along during various rescues, and students in history classes have found themselves in the trenches of WWI.

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