BORON — The Muroc Joint Unified School District issued an update on March 12 about its goal to return to in-class instruction for students in Boron, North Edwards and Edwards Air Force Base.

In a video message posted on the district’s website, Superintendent Kevin Cordes said the plan being submitted to the county and state will include details for a traditional return for all grades.

“It will be a traditional morning-to-afternoon schedule,” Cordes said. 

That same plan, Cordes added, will also outline COVID-19 precautionary measures for students, teachers and staff.

For families choosing to have their children continue on distance learning, the district’s middle and high schools will will live stream their classes in order to keep students with their current schedules.

“We have always been committed to providing a distance learning option for our students,” Cordes said. “If you do not feel comfortable sending your child to school, you can still utilize distance learning.”

For elementary school students, distance learning might mean a change of teachers or a “combination class.”

Cordes noted he was asked by several families why the district chose to transition back to a traditional model so late in the school year. Like virtually all of California’s school districts, Muroc was forced to transition to a distance learning model in March of last year as the pandemic became a serious threat and Gov. Gavin Newsom issued his stay-at-home mandate.

“I know at the beginning of the (school) year we were excited for that opportunity, but over the course of the year we’ve adjusted to distance learning,” Cordes said. 

Cordes noted Newsom and lawmakers “put in place certain expectations” for students to return to school by April 1 at the earliest. As part of those expectations, Assembly Bill/Senate Bill 86 provides $6.6 billion in grants to districts who begin at least a phased approach for the return of students in grades K-2.

Cordes said the new law would impact Muroc at every grade level due to its size.

“First and foremost, it is what is best for students,” Cordes said. “We know as good of a job as we have done with distance learning … in person instruction every day with a child’s teacher and their peers is the best place for a student to be.”

Another concern the district seeks to mitigate includes learning loss, or the decrease in student success as students were forced to adapt to learning in front of a computer screen.

“Even as well as he have done, we know there are going to be some gaps,” Cordes said. “This option is going to give students and teachers the opportunity to assess where those gaps lie and fill them in as soon as possible.”

He added results from surveys of parents, teachers and students indicated it was the most popular option.

Cordes said the option will also be the most consistent for families to implement as the school year ends.

“As we look down the road and to the next school year, it is becoming more and more evident that school districts up and down the state will be following this instructional model,” Cordes said. 

He added school districts are already beginning to seek or have received permission to return to school full time.

Cordes also noted that every facet of family and work schedules revolve around a traditional model, from the start of work to child care. Adjustments around it “would cause a lot more questions outside of our control to answer.”

“Prior to COVID, this is what we were all used to doing and is easiest to move back in to this manner of providing education to students,” he said. “In a way for us, this will provide an opportunity for us to work with the students and practice our procedures. That way when we return in the fall we can hit the ground running.”

Cordes said meetings with staff and teachers have included safety procedures for students to prevent COVID-19 exposures. Elements include how students will enter and exit school buildings, what the school day will look like from classrooms to lunch and playground activities.

Cordes stressed safety remained a top priority.

“It is our intent to provide a safe learning environment for children … our children go to these schools as well,” Cordes said. “We are positive we can move forward safely together.”

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