Through the COVID-19 pandemic, change has been a constant, a reality applicable in so many aspects of family life. Recently announced plans from the Bakersfield City School District to start the year virtually have altered the usual dynamic for many.
The 2020-2021 school year will be unlike any other. We turned to the Kern County Superintendent of Schools Office of Mary C. Barlow for more information and extended an opportunity to Robert Meszaros, Communications Director, to share these key messages with our readers:
What is the office of the superintendent of schools' position on student safety at this time?
A.The safety of students and staff is always a top priority. Kern County Superintendent of Schools (KCSOS) does not have the authority to set policy for school districts. This is the job of elected school board trustees. Each of Kern County’s 47 school districts has a board. We provide guidance and support, but the decisions to re-open schools ultimately rests at the school district level. We support the decisions being made so long as they are based on science and the best practices outlined by public health experts.
Will masks be required at all school sites for the 2020-2021 school year?
Current CDC and California Department of Public Health guidance suggests that all staff and students should wear face covering (there are few exceptions). However, this is just guidance. It will be up to each individual school district to decide what they will require. [Editor’s note: Bakersfield City School District will have a virtual start; any guidance on the possible use of masks at a later date for in-person student activities remains unknown.]
What do you wish parents knew about the upcoming school year?
Educators and elected boards are in a very, very challenging position as they are having to balance competing priorities. On one hand, you have to ensure the safety of everyone in your care and on the other hand you have to ensure that the education and social-emotional best interest of students and staff are upheld. All decisions are being made very, very carefully with student/staff best interest in mind.
How can parents best support teachers and administrators during this unusual school year?
By being patient and understanding that there will be bumps in the road as schools transition back to school in whatever model that might be. The bottom line is that we are all in this thing together and we will get through it as a team.