Kern County officials announce closures will start no later than Wednesday and continue until at least April 14

All Kern County schools will be closing for four weeks, Kern County officials announced Sunday night in response to the coronavirus emergency.

Kern County Superintendent of Schools Mary C. Barlow and Kern County Director of Public Health Services, Matthew Constantine issued a statement Sunday night outlining the closure.

It will go into effect no later than Wednesday and will remain in effect at least until April 14.

“Out of an abundance of caution, to minimize the spread of COVID-19 throughout Kern County, we are recommending a temporary closure of all Kern County public schools. This recommendation also applies to preschools and charter schools in Kern County,” Barlow and Constantine said.

“We applaud the efforts of school districts in Kern that have made proactive choices to prepare to close their schools to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 and also comply with Governor Newsom's Executive Order (N-26-20) to continue to deliver the following essential services to our children and families after school closure:

• High Quality educational opportunities to students that address equity and access issues of students in disadvantaged communities,

• A free and appropriate public education to students with disabilities consistent with required individualized education programs under the IDEA,

• School Meals in noncongregate settings that protects the safety of students and school personnel,

• Supervision for students during ordinary school hours.

Although there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Kern County, we are  recommending that all Kern County K-12 schools, preschools, and charter schools close temporarily, no later than the close of school on Wednesday, March 18, 2020. We are further recommending that Kern County public schools plan to reopen no earlier than Tuesday, April 14, 2020. School closures should be implemented in a manner consistent with Governor Gavin Newsom’s Executive Order N-26-20 (March 13, 2020) to ensure the provision of core and essential services to children.

“This is a difficult but necessary decision as we try to slow the spread of the virus into Kern County and protect our most vulnerable populations.  I fully support it,” said Dr. Mary C. Barlow, Kern County Superintendent of Schools.

“There has been extensive consultation and planning with our school district superintendents and the Kern County Public Health Services Department to determine the correct course of action while serving the needs of the children and families in Kern. I want to personally thank Matt Constantine and his staff for their extraordinary collaboration and support during preparations for the temporary closure of public schools in our county”, Barlow added.

While children are out of school during this temporary closure, it is important to reduce their risk exposure to COVID-19. “Parents should avoid taking their children to crowded areas like shopping malls and stores and should avoid all non-essential travel,” said Matt Constantine, Director of Kern County Public Health Services.

Residents are urged to visit www.kern.org and www.kernpublichealth.com for additional information.