BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Some students are back on campus and Kern County Public Health said it will likely stay this way even if our county is pushed back into the purple tier. 23ABC News spoke to staff and students at Garces Memorial High School to learn more about how everyone is adjusting in light of COVID-19.
Even though many local students are back in class, there are new safety protocols they must all follow in light of COVID-19.
“All of our desks are six feet apart just to make sure social distancing is happening. They wear masks the entire time when they are in their classrooms as well," said Garces Memorial High School Principal Myka Peck.
Peck said COVID-19 has transformed the daily routines for roughly 450 students and 43 staff members that returned to campus more than a week ago.
“They disinfect their seat before they sit in it, there’s hand sanitizers in every room, they get their temperature checked before every class period.”
For the last five weeks schools have been able to reopen without a waiver application. Both Kern Public Health and the Kern Superintendent of Schools said that they do not track the reopening schools and that even if the county scales back into the purple tier due to a rise in cases, schools that are open before that will not have to close back down. However, no new schools will be allowed to reopen if that happens.
Peck said that one student tested positive for COVID-19 recently but it did not originate on campus and they isolated the case.
“The first thing I do is call my boss the Diocese of Fresno, then I call Kern Public Health and then we start contact tracing and then we work all together to make sure it’s an isolated incident,” Peck explained.
Students or staff who test positive must quarantine for 14 days and on day 15 they can come back.
Public Health doesn’t require a negative COVID-19 test to return, however, if the person is still showing symptoms Garces does require a negative test.
Students like Garces Memorial High School senior Jacqueline Sala said they missed the social interactions on campus and are enjoying a sense of normalcy.
“I’m so happy to have all my friends around, seeing the teachers that I loved and missed so much. I just kinda forgot how important it is to have in-person learning and have that connection with your teachers,” Sala said.
Staff also said that COVID-19 added a new layer of pressure on them because they are working to keep everyone safe, while also teaching students both in class and the students who are still at home all at once.
Garces Memorial High School is also now utilizing every building they have including their chapel to keep students at a distance.