MOJAVE — Mojave Unified School District will plan to declare its schools open Oct. 27 should Kern County remain in the “red tier” of California’s four-stage system watching novel coronavirus metrics.

The county was given the green light to allow several sectors of business to resume limited in-door activity, including restaurants, gyms and churches. Public schools will be required to wait 14 days to ensure that the county remains in the red.

According to a letter from Superintendent Katherine Aguirre, should the county keep on pace with that requirement, she will declare the schools open on Tuesday, Oct. 27. MUSD’s board of education provided Aguirre with that authority at its Oct. 6 meeting.

In her Oct. 14 letter, Aguirre stressed health and safety remain the district’s top priority.

“I want to ressaure everyone that this means we will certainly see more people on campus, including some students, but we will take every precaution and move toward a full reopening in the safest way possible,” Aguirre wrote in her letter. 

She stressed the district would require everyone’s cooperation “in conducting self-screenings before making the decision to come to work or send a student to school” as well as observe standard COVID-19 procedures such as social distancing, using masks, regular handwashing and use of hand sanitizer.

“As we plan for the return of students in different capacities, we will be asking for more input from our families,” Aguirre wrote. 

Mojave and California City schools have been operating on a distance learning model since Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state emergency in March and instituted a mandatory stay-at-home order on March 19.  The Kern County Superintendent of Schools Mary Barlow and the county’s superintendents recommended around the same time to close schools as the pandemic grew.

The district re-affirmed a distance learning model prior to the start of the new school year on Aug. 6, investing in Chromebooks and other equipment for students.

Parents will receive a survey from the district’s education services department to ask the comfort level of sending children back to school and about transportation.

Families whose children attend California City High School or Mojave Junior-Senior High School will receive additional surveys from the schools’ athletic directors to gauge how many athletes will participate in athletics.

As with the delay in reopening schools for in-person instruction, school sports was delayed and later condensed by the California Interscholastic Federation, the state’s governing body on school sports.

Traditionally a three-season affair, sports will be condensed into two seasons, with football practice starting at the end of December.

“Since our seasons have not been only condensed but moved to the same time of the year, athletes will need to choose which sports they would like to participate in as some practices and competitions will overlap,” Aguirre wrote.

 Under the re-opening guidelines, school districts that have reopened to in-person instruction may remain open even if Kern County were to backslide back into a purple tier, or most restrictive stage of the state’s COVID-19 measures.

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