Kern County Covid-19 Test Results May Foil Plans for Opening Schools: Here are the details

Frazier Park and Lebec, CA (Saturday, July 18, 2020 at noon)—The most recent statistics have put Kern County back on the state’s watch list, along with Los Angeles and Ventura Counties—among 32 counties so far. This may mean that opening local schools will be on hold for longer than hoped, with distance learning coming back into the forefront.

Positive covid-19 cases per thousand tests have risen in Kern County from 2.6%  to 9.1% in the past two weeks of July. Of 105 deaths from the virus in Kern County, 25 have occurred in just the last 14 days, about 24% of them. There are now 8,291 reported cases, with 3,078 new cases in just the last 14 days: 37% of them.

Frequent hand washing with soap and water, face masks, and social distancing are vital to stop the community spread of this disease.

Reopening the economy has resulted in the surge of new cases locally, as it has in many areas across the nation. On Saturday, Governor Newsom said most California schools will not be able to open in August, until these numbers are flattened. Simultaneously, indoor restaurant dining has been stopped, along with other reopening efforts for industries such as personal care (barbers, beauticians, nail salons), gyms, shopping malls and churches.

The state budget has allocated $5.3 billion for helping equip students with distance learning notebooks and internet access, the governor said. Details will be reported this coming week. See below for the menu of options public school authorities had developed for El Tejon Unified School District reopening plans, before the county was put back on the watch list, requiring stringent safety measures and reversal of opening efforts.

Frazier Park, Lebec, CA (Friday, July 17, 2020)—A plan presented Friday by El Tejon Unified School District for reopening the school year this fall may require modifications after a county-wide consultation among all Kern County’s school superintendents Monday. It is anticipated that additional restrictions may be announced by the governor’s office to help reverse the recent surge in new covid-19 infections in California. Kern County is popping on and off the governor’s “watch list” of at-risk counties, based on new infection statistics.

The plans presented Friday for reopening Frazier Mountain High School, Frazier Park School, El Tejon Middle School and Condor Academy reflect a range of instructional options for parents to choose from, in accord with each family’s  needs, Haflich said.  They are presented here for families to consider options, and are likely to be adjusted again next week.

The menu of options accommodates a full spectrum—from returning to school in person two days a week for combined online and at-home teaching; full online distance learning or full curriculum-based homeschooling. Caution is evident in the district’s planning. Face masks and social distancing would be required on the bus and playgrounds. Clear face shields will be worn in the classroom, with individual desks also fitted with plexi shields

These are excerpts from the school’s letter to parents:

Option 1: Students will participate in a hybrid model of learning combining in person classroom instruction along with distance learning. Students will attend class two days a week: either Monday/Wednesday or Tuesday/Thursday. These students will participate in distance learning using the on-line Canvas platform the rest of the week. This will allow students to have daily assignments and interactions with their teacher when needed.

Safety for All: ETUSD is committed to keeping all students safe while comfortable at the same time. Students will be required to wear a face mask while on the bus or outside- coming/going from school, recess, etc. (Yes, students will still get recess J )All desks will have a clear shield so that students can continue to see each other and their teacher while being allowed to take their masks off while in the classroom. Comfortable, clear shields will be provided for all students to keep inside their classrooms along with all needed sanitizing products. Clear shields allow for everyone to participate in positive social interaction while staying safe.

Option 2: Students may participate in a full distance learning program using the On-line Canvas Platform. Students would continue to interact with a teacher for curriculum and lessons while staying in the comfort of their own home.

Option 3: Students may participate in ETUSD’s Independent Study Condor Academy Program. Students participate in on-line standards based classes from home and meet one-on-one with a credentialed teacher once a week for additional support and to ensure they are staying on track.

For those choosing Option 1, “Shield hats” will be given to transitional kindergarten (TK), kindergarten and first graders so the children will not have to adjust them or touch their faces. Clear face shields will be provided to each older student. The shields will stay at their desks. The desks themselves are being fitted with clear plexi shields, ETUSD Superintendent Sara Haflich said Friday, so students and teachers can see each other’s faces, but still be protected.

“We’ve put a lot of thought into this,” Superintendent Haflich said of the plan, “but we are ready to change things again after the governor’s instructions on Monday.”  The Kern County Superintendent of Schools plans to host the county-wide meeting for educators to confer after the governor’s statement, Haflich said.


This is part of the July 17, 2020 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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