Reflecting on two-plus school years amid a pandemic

Reflecting on two-plus school years amid a pandemic

  • March 18, 2022
  • webteam

Two years ago this week, I stood alongside colleagues from Kern County school districts and our partners at Kern County Public Health to issue a joint statement that made the inevitable official. All schools in Kern County would physically close no later than March 18, 2020, to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. We believed the disruptions would be short-lived, but two years later, COVID-19 continues to impact the lives of students, families, and our community.

Disruptions to our education system have been severe, and yet, we have become stronger as a result. Together, we have accelerated our use of educational technology, bolstered asynchronous learning, improved school systems, upgraded safety measures, and enhanced communication and parent engagement. We have learned how to quickly assess and address student learning loss. We have expanded student and family support at school sites to address the social, emotional, and physical well-being of each child. We have extended our hours of operation and support to students during the summer and intersession period.

These adaptations and advances occurred despite ever-changing circumstances and are a testament to our community’s inherent grit and determination. Kern County was one of the last to shutter in-person instruction and one of the first to reopen our schools.

Prior to the pandemic, the Kern Education Pledge was signed by leaders from Kern’s 46 school districts, CSU Bakersfield, Kern Community College District, West Kern Community College District, charter schools, and the larger community, who are committed to working together as one system to improve outcomes for all students as they move through the cradle to career education system. Seven work groups composed of content area experts from school districts and community partners have worked in collaboration to research strategies, gather and analyze data, track progress, identify and share resources and best practices, and implement mutually reinforcing activities.

Despite the challenges of the past two years, the Pledge work has persisted. We have continued to connect educational systems to streamline student transition from elementary through high school, to college and career. We remain hyper-focused on the end goal of preparing students for their future career opportunities, which will expand the economic strength of Kern County. A progress report of the Pledge work can be found at bit.ly/KernPledge.

As things return to a semblance of normalcy, I would like to offer my sincere appreciation to the classified and certificated staff, administrators, parents, and students of Kern County for their patience and resiliency. It is the shared sacrifice and adversity that I believe will make us all stronger and better when we are completely on the other side of the pandemic.

Thank you and be well,

Dr. Mary C. Barlow
Kern County Superintendent of Schools