Heroes Work Here!
One year ago, life as we knew it changed drastically. While we remember and mourn those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, we also celebrate and honor those who worked to help others through these most trying of times.
Here is a look back on just some of the highlights of the good work that has been completed by employees within KCSOS’s many divisions and programs.
Fiscal Services Division
Staff have displayed a strong desire to do whatever is necessary to meet the needs of Kern districts and have made themselves available without hesitation. Due to the nature of their duties, staff have remained on site since day one of the pandemic, have problem solved in nearly impossible circumstances, created flexible new workflows, and were there to support Kern County’s 47 school district every step of the way. Here are just a few specific examples:
- Same-day emergency purchases were made by wiring funds to put holds on critical Chromebooks, PPE, and other needed supplies;
- The business systems team worked diligently with the school district staff to get connectivity to work from home, often times after hours and on weekends;
- Staff on A/B schedules delivered items to co-workers’ homes to get them what they needed to get the work done;
- Staff worked closely with districts during closures giving out cell phone numbers to coordinate payroll and B-warrants delivery to the front door for them to pick up;
- The normal operation of printing and transmitting the electronic files for 24,860 W-2s, 3,335 1099s and 22,501 1095-Cs went uninterrupted despite very challenging circumstances.
Support Services Division
- Technology staff worked to source, purchase and deploy 20,000 Chromebooks and 7,000 hotspots to those families in need so that students could continue their learning remotely when schools were physically closed.
- Staff also worked tirelessly to ensure that KCSOS staff could work remotely.
Transportation and vehicle maintenance staff were quick to respond to the needs of the community during the initial shut-down by:
- Assisting school districts with their food services and meal delivery.
- Delivering Chromebooks, mobile hot spots, materials/ homework packets to students who were distant learning.
- Providing transportation services to school districts as they returned to in-person learning.
Food & Nutrition Services
- Without hesitation and with only a couple of days to plan, the department adopted a completely different service model (Grab & Go) and supported the effort of keeping students fed during school closures.
- Staff have gone above and beyond in providing support to other districts’ food services department.
- Over 5 million pieces (and counting) of PPE have been received, inventoried, and distributed to school districts.
- Hundreds of custom-built plexiglass dividers were designed, cut, assembled, and installed.
- Mass disinfection protocols were established and implemented in very short order.
- Bi-Polar Ionizers were installed in every single HVAC unit in every single building inhabited by KCSOS employees or students.
- Facilities staff has worked on a variety of projects to modernize/upgrade over 125,000 square feet of KCSOS educational and office facilities and successfully oversaw the development and build out of the Aurora Leaning Center.
Student Services Division
- School site staff put on PPE and provided nutritious meals to students and their families as they drove through the school parking lot to make sure all students were fed.
- Daycare employees helped distribute baby formula to students with babies to make sure they had the necessary resources even though they were unable to access the school site for instruction.
- Front office staff became Computer Technicians overnight by helping every student who called with login issues to make sure they could participate in distance learning.
- Some staff at the residential court school facilities went on site daily while the students were in distance learning to assist students with logging in and to assist with class assignments.
- Staff have explored, investigated and created how to provide remote instruction to the most intensive and unique special education students in Kern County, going beyond their normal workday in many cases to assist families.
- Itinerant staff have adapted to and flexed with a variety of district scheduling, student scheduling and online learning platforms in order to provide IEP services.
- Direct service staff and office professionals have assisted in other classrooms or taken on other support roles to assist when a staff member was absent.
- SELPA’s Program Specialists and Coordinators developed on-line Professional Development modules for school districts and schools to use either with individual teachers or in a staff development scenario; each module comes with its own guided questions and any handouts necessary.
- SELPA Regionalized Services staff assisted Districts/LEAs required to develop a Special Education Plan for CDE due to non-compliance issues. As the due date became close, this meant working long hours to provide the feedback/support they needed to able to be submit successfully.
Valley Oaks Charter
- Staff have gone above and beyond to serve the students and families at VOCS with many hours spent after the workday to prepare for remote instruction.
- Staff members have become technology experts and have learned a variety of programs to fit the needs of our students and have supported one another while learning these programs.
- VOCS teachers and administrators have worked tirelessly to find creative ways to engage all students, especially as they return back to in-person enrichment opportunities.
Human Resources Division
- Several staff in HR have been assigned to be the KCSOS COVID Response Team for many months, which requires being on call in the evenings and on weekends to assist employees who are impacted by COVID. They were trained in contact tracing for these roles.
- HR, Payroll, Teacher Development and Credentialing staff have worked hard to ensure KCSOS employees and districts are provided with the high level of service they deserve (which in many cases required in-person services).
- The credentials team went above and beyond creating online resources for districts. This allowed districts to continue the hiring and certification process without delays.
- HR staff had to adapt and learn new laws around COVID-19 leaves and COVID-19 accommodations as well as track those who were quarantining, working remotely, or recovering from a COVID related illness.
- Distributed over 1,000 codes weekly to educators for priority vaccines.
Instructional Services Division
- Multiple departments came together to create 9 weeks of ready-to-go curriculum in a new platform to ensure all students in Kern County had access to high quality curriculum during the pandemic. Staff trained teachers, parents and students on the platform while offering continuous support to districts.
- Staff have trained over 20,000 people this year and we learned to adapt and thrive in a new virtual learning environment requiring changes and adaptations to best support our participants.
- A “Reimagining Teaching and Learning Academy” was held virtually where we supported district teams in the creation and implementation of school reopening plans which included training and support around best practices in distance, hybrid and face to face models.
- The Professional Learning and Student Support team has been committed to ensuring teachers have the tools and resources necessary to succeed during this time of uncertainty. The department established the Distance Learning Collaborative as a community where educators can come together to learn best practices, problem solve and support one another. We have also offered multiple free training series based on the needs shared by our districts.
- Migrant staff has been relentless in the identification and recruitment of migrant families in Kern county. They have continued to reach out to ensure our migrant families have received the support needed during the pandemic.
- The Science for Kern team was not going to let a pandemic get in the way of hands-on science and has delivered Science kits to support over 3,000 kids in Kern County.
- The School Social Workers have answered the call to ensure they are doing whatever it takes to meet the needs of the students they serve. From counseling to food distribution to connecting families to resources, they are all in.
- The Foster and Homeless team has been busy assisting struggling families and helping them get back on their feet, even pulling their own money to ensure a family they serve had a room at a local motel in town.
- School Community Partnerships hosted our Leaders in Life Conference with over 650 students in a virtual environment. We had the largest conference for students by students on the West Coast and transitioned to a virtual conference to ensure our students did not have to miss out.
- The Induction Programs staff continued to provide support and advisement to participating teachers and administrators as well as partnering districts, while working on Canvas Curriculum support project. Ultimately restructuring the credential recommendation process and issuing over 200 clear credentials throughout May and June 2020.
- The Teacher of the Year Planning committee adjusting the event that was originally scheduled for May 6, 2020 as a fully virtual celebration that honored and celebrated each teacher individually.
- The KiDS team has worked closely with districts to add additional filters and metrics to help them monitor DL students including.
Community Connection for Childcare/ Kern Early Stars/ Dental Health Network/ Early Childhood Council of Kern
- Provided early learning and care services to families identified as essential workers and at-risk populations during the COVID-19 State of Emergency.
- Held virtual coaching sessions with childcare providers assisting them with strategies and resources on distance learning.
- Launched drive thru dental screening events collaborating with First 5 Kern Immunization Mobile Clinic.
- Provided trauma informed care listening sessions and trainings to the community.
- Handed out PPE and disinfectant cleaning supplies (i.e. masks, gloves, hand sanitizer) to child care centers and family child care providers.
Schools Legal Service
- Schools Legal practice groups (Labor & Employment, Business and Special Education) reprioritized their existing work to be available to interpret constantly changing guidance from multiple federal and state authorities over the course of the year.
- Staff attended a host of meetings, participated in task forces, and provided general and individualized support to the County Superintendent and school districts as they continually pivoted in response to emerging requirements. This included guiding districts in special education challenges, providing business and contract support for new COVID-related initiatives, and supporting districts with reopening, testing and vaccination guidance.
The Dream Center
Since the pandemic began in March of 2020, the Dream Center, a resource center for foster and homeless youth up to age 25, has utilized safe, creative ways, even during shelter-in-place order months, to continue to serve youth. Some of the Dream Center’s most notable accomplishments include:
- Helping 38 homeless youth to get off the streets and into low barrier shelter beds.
- Helping 36 homeless youth and their 6 small children obtain permanent housing, despite a community-wide record low vacancy rate for rental properties.
- Distributing 3,430 snack bags, 563 emergency food bags, and 885 hygiene kits.
- Distributing clothing to 634 youth, many of whom were homeless.
- Distributing food, toys, children’s books, cleaning supplies, diapers, wipes, PPE and thermometers to 107 foster parents caring for 111 young children, and 68 parenting youth caring for 132 young children to help reduce stress and prevent child abuse and/or neglect.
- Provided signage and various tools to assist school districts in their efforts to provide timely and accurate communication with stakeholders.
- KCSOS’s print shop printed thousands of packets for distance learning materials.
- KETN provided remote distance learning focused on STEAM-related topics and curriculum.
CALM & Camp KEEP
- CALM staff have worked tirelessly to provide care and enrichment for CALM’s resident animals and have worked on major improvements that will be featured upon re-opening to the public.
- Camp KEEP staff developed a virtual Camp KEEP that has been wildly successful, including ongoing programming to supplement distance learning.
- Maintained insurance coverage to its entire membership, whether it be through our Workers’ Compensation, Property/Liability and Health Benefits programs.
- Negotiated an early testing solution with Quest Diagnostics.
- Provided free remote access to coaching from clinicians and therapists through Vida Health.
- Made 24/7 Telehealth available at no cost with MDLive.
- 21st Century Expanded Learning Center Grant staff seamlessly pivoted in their roles to provide an innovative virtual program to Arvin, Fairfax and Edison students providing them with help accessing the internet, homework support, one-on-one tutoring, and enrichment activities.