BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — In-person school has been in session for Bakersfield Christian High School students for months. BCHS junior, Luke Perri recalled the assembly where administrators told them that their cooperation with protocols like mask-wearing, social distancing and socialization would help them keep their school open.
“It was just kind of a wake-up call,” he said. “Children our age aren't really that much at risk, but we have parents and grandparents who are, so we take that really seriously."
Fellow BCHS junior, Jilian Andreeson said that their diligence in sticking to those precautions has not wavered since reopening. "We as students are willing to follow those rules, because we realize what we have and we don’t want it to be taken away,” she said.
BCHS president, John Buetow said the school voluntarily took a brief pause back in November, when their cases went up to 14 to 15 cases over a 14-day period, which he said is below the state requirements at the time of keeping cases under five percent of the school’s population.
BCHS has had 40 cases total among the 620 population of students, staff and faculty, according to Buetow. This, he said has been less than the national percentage rate, and none of the cases have led to hospitalization.
Even though BCHS is a private institution, Buetow explains the school is still required to adhere to the same public health regulations to stay open as public schools.
Recently, BCHS has had one COVID-19 case over a 14-day period amongst about 620 people on campus between students, faculty and staff.
“Schools all have one gym, right? They have one wrestling room, one library, one theatre. And it’s that same space regardless of the number of students you have,” Buetow said. “So we’re able to use those spaces and meet the needs of our 560 some students, whereas you can’t space students out in those same spaces when you have 2000.”
The CDC mentioned in the White House COVID-19 response team briefing Monday morning the data reflects more school cases coming from community breaches of COVID than transmission between students.
“Students, 14 to 18-year-olds, far and away they get more exposed during their free time: Saturday nights at the park playing sports for fun. Hanging out with friends during the day, so we think school is far and away the safest place for our students to be,” Buetow said.
BCHS also has a leadership team whom students and parents contact as COVID symptoms, close contacts or actual cases arise, according to Buetow. They track the cases of students and immediate family members. Each Friday,the school notifies the school community of what cases the school has had over a fourteen-day period.
Buetow added no-contact sports have also resumed and students mentioned being excited to return to some clubs safely. Virtual learning, Buetow said has been available to students. Right now, 40 students have opted to take that route.