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Beginning March 15, the Tehachapi Unified School District will begin Phase 3 of its reopening plan as elementary school students start returning to campuses.

"I am happy to share with you that the first two phases of our district reopening plan have implemented safely as well as successfully for TUSD students and staff," Superintendent Stacey Larson-Everson wrote in a March 8 letter posted on the district website.

Beginning Monday, students in grades TK-2 will return to their classrooms, with students in grades 3-5 to begin the transition the following Monday.

Returning to the classroom are only students who submitted a TUSD Learning Schedule Form and selected Blended Learning.

"For those families that have not yet selected a blended learning option, an additional opportunity will be provided in the coming days," wrote Larson-Everson.

Returning students will be given a Schedule A (Mondays and Tuesdays) or Schedule B (Thursdays and Fridays) from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Students will be given a snack during the day, and will have the opportunity to be sent home with a lunch and breakfast for the following morning.

Larson-Everson wrote that she is confident in the next phase of reopening "and excited to be one step closer to having all students back in the classroom." 

Parents, on the other hand, are not so confident with the new plan.

Sara Brus, parent and administrator of the Reopen Tehachapi Schools Facebook page, said that although she is relieved that the district has a timeline for elementary students to return, she can't help but feel at a loss for the older students.

"Many of these students are missing out on the most foundation-building time of their childhood and are suffering academically as well as mentally," Brus said. "I just wish there was a plan for this population, as they are giving up on scholarship opportunities, much-needed social interaction, and most importantly, hope for a return to somewhat of a normal life that they are all craving."

Brandi Reel said she is encouraged that schools are beginning to reopen. However, she doesn't believe three hours, twice a week, is enough.

"Our students are being denied the appropriate education they are entitled to. On Tuesday, a board member said that Zoom board meetings aren’t as efficient as in person. Ironic, when our students haven’t been in a classroom for 363 days," Reel said.

Jenna Alba, a mother to fourth- and ninth-grade students, said, "If Disneyland can be open by this weekend, then why can't our schools?"

Chrystle Parks said she is lucky to be a stay-at-home mom to her five children, but two days a week won't cut it for her.

"I desperately want my senior to have some sort of school year or at least be able to step foot on his campus along with my sixth-grader to experience middle school," Parks said.

Carrie Kennison, a parent of four school-aged children, said her problem with the reopening plan is largely due to transportation since busing will not be allowed.

"My children are forced to stay home because of transportation," Kennison said.

Since people are now allowed to go to the hairdresser, malls and spas, she wonders why can't her children return to school.

Marissa Morgan also expressed her opinion that two days a week is not enough.

"There are plenty of schools in Kern County that go four days a week, if not full-time. The schools need to stop crippling our children," Morgan said.

According to the superintendent, TUSD is not permitted to bring middle and high school students to in-person learning due to Kern County's status in the Purple Tier.

Larson-Everson wrote that when the conditions allow "and we are able to begin in-person instruction for middle and high school students, we will notify the parents."

Andrea Miles said she has lost all hope for her middle school child and two high school students to have any presence in school this year.

"Other Kern County schools have already been open and functioning, while we’re opening slowly... Their grades reflect that absence," Miles said.