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Some students head back to campus after months-long COVID disruption

Posted at 5:31 PM, Oct 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-28 20:31:28-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — Many people probably didn’t love having to go to class in high school. But after 8 months of video chats and remote learning, some kids here at Garces Memorial High School are excited to go back to school.

“It’s awesome just to, you know, see people that you have not seen in 8 months. You see teachers for the first time. I just met my theology teacher for the first time today," said Zach Buckey, a senior at Garces.

Buckey is one of many Kern County students returning to campus on Wednesday. Garces welcomed its seniors back, and by next week, everyone will be back.

“I don’t think I ever thought that I would say this in my life but I missed my uniform," said Kelly McGrath, also a senior at the school.

School looks how you might assume it would during a pandemic. All student desks are 6 feet apart, certain walkways are designated as one-way paths, while others are taped off. Some benches are inaccessible, and hand sanitizer is readily available.

“Our faculty and staff are actually being COVID tested, we have an isolation room," said John Buetow, the President of Bakersfield Christian High School, where lecture halls have limited seating, and just about every student 23ABC saw outside was wearing a mask.

“it’s really exciting to have our first phase of students return and provide services for them inside a classroom setting," said Erin Briscoe-Clark, public information officer for the Kern High School District.

Every school has its way of reopening. KHSD is taking a phased approach, and beginning Wednesday will only allow the return of special education students with moderate to severe disabilities. These students will attend classes only in small groups. And if a student or staff member tests positive for the virus at any of these schools, plans are in place.

“Our school nurse or administration would be alerted immediately and that cohort would be shut down. And the people in that cohort would be alerted," Briscoe-Clark said.

Seniors at Garces say their class, along with the 2020 class, will always be known as the ‘covid class.’ Buckey said he sees the adversity as a positive thing.

"We’re gonna remember our senior year as being affected by covid, and growing up it’s gonna make our lives a little easier because we’re going to know how to face rough challenges," he said.