ROSAMOND — As school districts in Kern County prepare for a modified return of students to in-classroom teaching, some are taking slower approaches than others. Mojave Unified School District in Mojave and Cal City are starting slow and waiting for parent survey responses before moving full tilt.
Others, like Southern Kern Unified School District in Rosamond and Muroc Unified in Born and Edwards, adopted similar plans.
Just prior to Gov. Gavin Newsom overhauling COVID-19 guidelines for re-opening, SKUSD was set to roll out a hybrid model. Student cohorts at all levels would attend two days of in-school class and two days of distance learning, with Wednesdays reserved for all students being taught virtually. They quickly switched to an online model under the new state guidelines.
Now able to re-open, SKUSD will take a phased approach, according to a notice of intent from Superintendent Barbara Gaines. Special needs students returned to the classroom on Nov. 2. Most students will not return until after the new year, on Jan. 11.
“In our plan, we are taking great care to protect the safety of our students and staff, while keeping in mind the need for students to be physically, mentally and socially present in school,” Gaines stated in her report.
Re-opening comes with all expected strings attached, including social distancing and rigorous handwashing. The district, according to Gaines, has worked to improve its HVAC system along with public health recommendations and “will install by-polar ionization units to further strengthen the quality of our indoor air by bacteria, viruses, allergens, volatile organic compounds and particulate matter.”
While SKUSD encourages parents to screen their children’s health each day prior to school, the district will conduct its own operations.
“Any student exhibiting symptoms at arrival or while on school grounds will be turned away if parent is present or will be immediately isolated in the designated isolation area and sent home,” Gaines’ report states. “Each school site has a designated isolation room.”
The district will perform a similar screening on staff during their first-day return to campus and will require all staff to check daily. If at any time they exhibit symptoms of COVID-19, they should stay at home.
“If the employee requests a test, the District will assure that a test is completed,” the report states. “The COVID-19 Coordinator will contact the employee and give directions on Rapid COVID-19 testing available. While waiting for results, staff will self-quarantine at home. Staff who become symptomatic at work will be immediately isolated and sent home.”
Schools will also undergo a daily sanitization and students’ desks will be clearly marked according to cohort groups. Students will maintain social distancing during the classroom and at all other times.
For more information on SKUSD’s approach, visit www.skusd.k12.ca.us.
Muroc Unified School District
For students in Boron and Edwards Air Force Base, a return to school will be similar to Rosamond. Currently, students remain on a distance learning schedule and a return will be phased, according to Muroc’s re-opening plan.
The second phase will include launching a hybrid model for students with an individual learning plan. Phase three will employ a similar model, where students will be placed in alternating cohorts for three days of distance learning and two days of in-class learning.
The fourth phase returns to a traditional model, albeit with “preventative measures and additional proactive processes.”
“What we are going to see is a very different scenario in coming back to school than when we left last spring,” Superintendent Kevin Cordes said in an Oct. 30 video update. He noted the coming weeks will show news of how different school districts will conduct operations according to their local responses, adding “it will be a delicate process.”
Muroc did not announce concrete dates in which it will implement its next phases.