District has little choice in the matter

The Taft City School District's Board of Education will vote Thursday evening on a recommendation to start the 2020-21 school year the same way the 2019-20 school year ended - distance learning.

After district personnel spent the summer working on committees with parents, students and teachers and administrators from other Westside districts looking for a way to reopen campuses for the start of school in just over two weeks, the district was forced by rising COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations to start the school year with no students on campus.

The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. in the board room at the district headquarters at 820 Sixth St.

Superintendent Julie Graves made the recommendation at a special meeting last week.

The information is already being communicated to parents.

On the school website (http://taftcityschools.com), the district has told parents what to expect.

"According to the recent release from the California Department of Public Health, the in-person reopening criteria lists that any district that has been on their County’s monitoring list within the last 14 days must conduct distance learning only with students, until the district has been off the monitoring list for at least 14 days. Kern County is currently on the monitoring list in the state of California, and for that reason the Taft City School District will implement Distance Learning only with all students beginning on August 17, 2020."

Before making the recommendation on July 22, Graves outlined the tentative plans the district had to reopen campuses for part-time face-to-face learning for students and the daunting challenge of screening students and staff and transporting students to school.

So far the school has received 8,000 single-use masks, 1800 face shields and 75 gallons of hand sanitizer, she said.