MOJAVE — As the county endured another weeks-long shut down due to rising coronavirus cases, the Mojave Unified School District administration noted that more teachers and staff to work from home, according to a Dec. 14 letter from Superintendent Dr. Katherine Aguirre, days before the school district closed for winter break.

“The current situation and new stay at home orders have prompted us to ask more of our employees to work from home,” Aguirre states in her letter. As a result, Aguirre cautioned some delays will be expected when requesting info from a school site or the district office.

She noted that the district was fortunate when it comes to COVID-19 cases.

“At the district level, we have experienced the impact from COVID, but have been very fortunate to not have any severe cases of the virus and only secondary and tertiary exposures,” Aguirre said. She credited the use of personal protective gear and safety measures the district — like most businesses — have employed to keep the public and its staff safe.

Since school began Aug. 6, students in Mojave and California City have been conducting distance learning. The district invested in Chromebooks for all of its students, and mobile hotspots for students without reliable internet service and students were provided materials from schools and use Google’s Classroom platform for learning.

Schools were allowed to renew in-person teaching with extensive safety guidelines two weeks after a county entered the second tier of the state’s “Blueprint for a Safe Economy” plan. Mojave Unified began to reopen to small cohorts of students with special needs on Oct. 24 for specific services, with plans to move forward based on a set of surveys the district sent to parents.

“We have small cohorts that have been coming to school for a few weeks to receive support services,” Aguirre stated in her letter. “Once the county reverted back to [purple tier], there was a substantial decrease in participants and we completely understand the shift.”

Aguirre said the district will continue to provide services to students who wish to participate while increasing online services currently provided.

Several Kern County school districts reverted back to a distance learning model after Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a new stay-at-home order for most of the state. The order was contingent on ICU bed capacity in a region. The order stays in effect for at least three weeks, depending on the ICU capacity improving.

She added the district will work to bring students back “as soon as it is safe to do so.” The estimated time to increase the number of students on campus could be between late January or early February.

“The teachers and classified staff are working with the district to ensure that when we begin to bring students back, it is as safe and educationally sound as possible.”

Aguirre wrote that the district realizes the time to bring students back to campus has been longer than originally anticipated.

“Nobody has any real estimate as to when we can all get back to normal and all we can do is try our best to keep each other safe and provide as many educational opportunities as possible,” Aguirre wrote.

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