The Tehachapi Unified School District is evaluating how to best help students continue their education despite school closures due to concerns about coronavirus.
“It’s important to make sure that all students can continue to learn, but there are a number of challenges that are presented,” TUSD Superintendent Stacey Larson-Everson said at an emergency board meeting last week.
These challenges are whether students have devices and internet connectivity. Many also need accommodations as they may be English learners, have special needs or have other circumstances.
The district announced this week that all school locations in Tehachapi are closed March 18 through April 14. This followed the mandate for public schools from the Kern County Superintendent of Schools and guidance from Gov. Gavin Newsom.
“It’s important to know that the risk for Kern County remains low for disease transmission,” said Matt Constantine, director of Kern County Public Health Services, during a news briefing Tuesday morning in Bakersfield. He added, “When you are sick stay at home. Avoid going to work or school when you are sick.”
Many types of educational opportunities are being explored and data is being collected to come up with plans.
“It’s going to depend on what our students have available to them at home, and what we are able to provide. There’s different learning styles. Some kids will do great, just being able to hear instruction, whereas others really need to see it. So we have to tap into and really understand how we are going to meet those needs,” said Larson-Everson.
Students are not required to complete school work or assignments during school closures, but as a solution for the present time, the district will be handing out TK-12 enrichment packets and giving away free lunches at Jacobsen Middle School, Tompkins Elementary School and Golden Hills Elementary, according to a TUSD handout.
More than 40 percent of Kern County families don’t have internet access at their residences. As of March 20, KCSOS has sourced 5,000 Chromebooks, and 2,000 mobile hot spot devices have been ordered. These mobile hot spot devices may be placed on school buses and driven to neighborhoods where there is the greatest need, according to kern.org.
It is currently unknown whether these devices will be used in Tehachapi.
Some currently used learning platforms TUSD students can use while at home include ConnectEd, StudySync, TWIG Science, ReadWriteThink and CoolMath.
Larson-Everson said more information is needed from Gov. Gavin Newsom on how the district can provide supervision of students during regular school hours, especially since school is closed.
“We are still looking for quite a bit of direction from our county and state officials to provide us clarity on what each of these items mean,” added Larson-Everson.
Newsom ordered school staff and students to stay at home while, “to the extent feasible,” they provide educational opportunities through distance or independent study learning methods, meals in non-congregate settings, continue to pay employees and arrange for students' supervision during regular school hours, said the KCSOS website.