No confirmed cases of coronavirus in Kern County, officials hold briefing on current precautions

Posted at 12:37 PM, Mar 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-16 15:37:32-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — The Kern County Superintendent of Schools and Public Health Services held a combined press briefing Monday to discuss precautions taken amid the coronavirus.

As of Monday morning, there are still no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Kern County. KCSOS said they are still on track to keep school campuses closed until April 14.

"Being open the beginning of this week will allow schools to communicate with their parents, communicate with their staff, communicate most importantly with their students and provide them with the necessary informational packets to continue instruction and have direction to access critical support services," said Dr. Mary Barlow, Superintendent of Schools.

Barlow said her office has ever plan to comply with the recommended four-week quarantine period, but that is subject to change.

"We delayed taking this action as long as possible because we serve a different population here in Kern County," Barlow said.

According to KCSOS, 73% of children in Kern County are eligible for free meals and 33% live in poverty. Barlow said many of the students do not have access to the technology needed to continue distance learning.

Along with distance learning, KCSOS said their free-meal programs sets them apart from other districts because of how many students are dependent on those programs.

Officials said they have a system in-place to continue those food programs. They are expanding a version of the Seamless Summer Option to feed students through June 30.

Deputy Superintendent Lisa Gilbert said they are creating and disseminating learning packets to distribute to students so they don't fall behind in their classes while school is postponed. Part of this programming includes teaming up with Canvas, a digital learning platform, to create digital curriculum for students.

Tony Smith, assistant superintendent of human resources for the county, announced that the districts are working with employee bargaining units to provide leave to employee of school districts. Smith said for those employees 65 years and older who need to self-isolate or have a chronic illness will be allowed to work from home and be on paid-leave.

According to Kern County Public Health, nationwide there have been 41 coronavirus-related deaths over 46 states, as of March 12. In California there are 335 cases with 6 coronavirus-related deaths.

Public Health Director Matt Constantine reported 30 travelers in the county have required monitoring. 17 of those have been cleared from the monitoring program and 13 still meeting the requirements for monitoring.

  • Watch the full press conference here: