BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Last school year students went home during the pandemic for what seemed like an extended Spring Break. Now more than a year later, some still haven't set foot inside a physical classroom.
Data from the Kern High School District shows seniors had the lowest rates of return. Roughly 24 percent of those students went back to in-person learning. Only 30 percent of juniors went back to schools across the county.
And sophomores had the third-highest rates of return with 33 percent. This year's freshman class, which had never been to physical high school classes before, had the largest amount of students return at 38 percent.
KHSD releases number of students returning to the classroom
So why aren't students returning to school for in-person learning? The assistant superintendent says it's several different factors including comfort. But one thing is clear, the figure is not what they expected it to be.
KHSD Assistant Superintendent Dean McGee discussed in-school attendance numbers to the district's board of trustees on Monday night.
"It's clear to see that the majority of students have remained in distance learning," said McGee at the time. "Student attendance patterns have been off the rails for a year at least."
Data compiled by schools at KHSD on Friday showed that only about 32 percent of high school students were attending courses in-person after being allowed to return to campus in mid-April. But as McGee told the board of trustees Monday he thinks the comforts of being at home during the pandemic play a major role in why low in-person figures are seen across all grade levels.
"Students are in a pattern. It's more comfortable to maintain the status quo than to change. If they're distance learning they can get up and go get something to eat or drink, they can be in their pajamas, it's just much more comfortable for them."
23ABC asked the question of why your child hasn’t returned to in-person learning on social media. Amber Chrissakis says "My kids didn’t go back. They didn’t want to, and that it was too close to the end of the year for me to stress over it all. This year was a complete waste.
Mary Martinez felt differently, saying "My son is back in school and is doing so much better. The school is doing a good job applying safety protocols for COVID."
Another challenge with the return to in-person learning, with only one month till summer break, McGee says a typical culprit may also be impacting seniors.
"We believe that senioritis may play a role in it," he said. "We look historically at senior attendance and engagement levels during the last quarter of the school year, we can see that seniors are ready to move on."
McGee also added that because being in-person is voluntary right now there is nothing that is holding those students accountable for showing up to class. According to McGee at the start of the fall semester in the middle of August KHSD students will be required to return for in-person instruction. If they don't they'll be marked as truant.
Now let's take a closer look at how KHSD is currently operating. For kids back in physical classrooms, district officials say there are some new rules in place.
Students are all sitting about three feet apart during in-person instruction per CDC guidelines. Students and staff must also wear masks during instruction.
On top of this bus schedules are limited and reduced with rides only being offered to kids younger than high school age.
Going forward, KHSD says it's looking to reduce the number of remote learning options to help students get used to being in school again. The district also says it plans to offer completely in-person summer school options.
KHSD is also looking to move its boundary lines based on attendance. It's not clear when we could see a change to the school district boundaries but officials plan to hold a meeting this summer to further discuss the move.
CURRENT SCHOOL BOUNDARIES:
PROPOSED SCHOOL BOUNDARIES:
Once that is done the district will hold a meeting in August or September for a final vote.
KHSD officials say it plans to change those lines to add a new school to the district.