The Kern High School District is preparing to start returning students back to school. The district is planning to allow small cohorts of students to return in a phased plan. However, before that can happen, the county has to move into the next tier.
The majority of public comment at the Kern High School District meeting Monday night speaking out against distance learning. People who wrote in for public comment calling distance-learning detrimental to the students future and mental health. "Tears, frustration, isolation, confusion, depression, and anger. These are just some of the few emotions that run through teachers students and parents on a daily basis with distance learning."
Others supporting distance learning, saying it's unsafe to return to campus. "Why risk infecting and killing more community members when we can stay safe and socially distanced in learning. Why take on the financial burden of PPE and active testing at each school site. "
Kern High School District Superintendent, Bryon Schaefer, weighing in telling board members distance learning is not nearly as effective. Urging members to approve a safe re-opening plan to put in place once Kern County moves into the red tier. Schaefer saying all CDC health protocols will be followed. And staff, visitors, and students will be screened for symptoms upon arrival to campus. "Social distancing - 6 feet will be required, drinking fountains will be closed, lockers will not be used. We will have a Covid-19 prevention and awareness course for all staff.”
To protect students, Schaefer says all students and staff will be given face shields or masks, transportation for students will be limited capacity, the campus will follow all disinfecting protocols. And if someone does get sick, they will immediately begin isolation and contact tracing.
Currently, the district can't move forward until the county moves from the purple tier to the red tier. The governor is expected to speak on this on Tuesday. "We are hopeful that tomorrow- Tuesday October 6th we will move, but if we don’t my example here is October 13th,” Schaefer says.
Once in the red tier there is a 14-day waiting period before schools can return to a small cohort in person instruction style of learning. Schaefer says, "Theoretically if the Kern County positivity rate goes down, we will be ready and willing to open school in small cohorts. This will be on October 27th."
Board members approved a motion to give Schaefer the authority to reopen campus once Kern County is in the red category at least 14 days. Once that happens students would return in phases. The first phase would be in late October with around 1,000 students who have moderate to severe disabilities. Phase two and three would begin by November 9th. Around 1,000 students with mild to moderate disabilities would return. Officials say that includes English learners in levels one and two; as well as foster and homeless students.