NORTH EDWARDS -- Muroc Joint Unified School District will start its first quarter of the school year with a distance learning model, according to a letter from district Superintendent Kevin Cordes.
Muroc made its announcement Tuesday evening after a weeks-long online survey and the recent spike in Kern County coronavirus cases.
Muroc Joint Unified School District includes schools in North Edwards, Edwards Air Force Base and Boron.
In his letter Cordes acknowledged the news comes “as a relief to some and a disappointment to others” and that the decision “will have a direct impact on everyone.”
The distance learning model will be in place through the first quarter of the year, or Oct. 9.
Cordes said the district knew the decision was a possible outcome while it had 10 teams working on how to best implement teaching students at home or at school.
The elements of concern included physical and social distancing under California’s COVID-19 safety measures, special education needs, cleaning schedules to disinfect school facilities, sports and extracurricular activities, transportation and food service.
“We have invested significant dollars that were given by state and federal programs for ensuring that all students would be given access to devices and internet connectivity, as well as daily live interaction with teachers and other students,” Cordes said.
Muroc’s distance learning will be built upon the lessons learned from the spring, he added, when the district closed down in March. Like most schools in Kern, the decision was made with short notice, and had little time to implement distance learning methods.
Details will be posted on the district’s website, muroc.k12.ca.us, as they are developed.
In March, the Kern County Superintendent of Schools and Kern’s 47 school districts, made a decision to postpone reopening of schools through April 14 in line with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s stay-at-home order. On April 2, that decision was revised to spend the remainder of the past school year with schools physically closed.
On July 17, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced all school districts in a county on the state’s COVID-19 monitoring list must start the school year with distance learning. Kern County re-appeared on the list on Tuesday, after reporting record surges of positive COVID-19 cases for three days in a row.
“We must follow all mandates and laws applicable to schools as they relate to COVID-19,” Cordes wrote in his letter.
Cordes noted that as a father of three students enrolled in Muroc schools, “this a very personal to me.”
“Your child’s safety, your family’s safety and the impact of any decision that we decide to make or are mandated to make is at the center of most of my thoughts, conversations and actions,” Cordes wrote.
Muroc isn’t alone in its decision to start the year with a distance learning model. Mojave Unified School District, which includes California City and Mojave, on June 23 made a decision to start the first quarter online.
Southern Kern Unified School District in Rosamond initially planned to start the year with a hybrid classroom/distance learning model before it abruptly changed its decision to a distance learning model. SKUSD Superintendent Barbara Gaines told her board of trustees on July 15 that that school district would need to plan for a distance learning contingency if the state issued new mandates.