School district distributes kits for more than 5,000 COVID-19 tests
BY CLAUDIA ELLIOTT
Alberta Newspaper Group
COVID-19 at-home antigen test kits were provided free to families of students in Tehachapi Unified School District on Jan. 5. A total of 2,650 test kits — sufficient to provide 5,300 tests — were distributed. Superintendent Stacey Larson-Everson noted that the district isn’t requiring students to be tested. It distributed the test kits — provided by the state of California — as part of its continuing effort to keep schools safe and healthy for students and staff. The response of parents was positive, as evidenced by a long line at the distribution point in the parking lot at Tehachapi Boulevard and Snyder Avenue — just west of Coy Burnett Stadium — even before the 7:30 a.m. start time. “We had a great team of people assisting with distribution of kits, including myself and other district office administration,” Larson-Everson said. “The largest rush of families arrived in the morning and we began handing out kits (early) to help reduce traffic and congestion in the area.” She said the district’s maintenance team set up cones in the parking lot to facilitate smooth distribution during the morning crunch time. “We are thankful for all those that braved the cold and helped by distributing or picking up test kits,” she said. Earlier she noted that use of the take-home antigen tests is strictly voluntary, but if children test positive, parents are asked to keep them at home and contact their doctor and school right away. On Friday, Larson-Everson said the district still has about 850 kits (each will perform two tests) and is trying to get more from the Kern County Superintendent of Schools office. “Once we determine the final amount that we can make available to students, we will announce how they can be obtained by families,” she said. She expects this announcement to be during the week of Jan. 10-14. Students returned to school from winter break on Jan. 3. Larson-Everson said she will update the district’s board on the impact of COVID-19 at its meeting on Jan. 11. That meeting is set for 5 p.m. and will be held by teleconference. Agenda and access information is available on the district’s website, tehachapiusd.com. ‘SIPPIN’ WITH THE SUPE’ The Wednesday test kit distribution wasn’t the only time Larson-Everson and other administrators were out in the cold last week. On Tuesday, the superintendent and several members of her staff were at Kohnen’s Country Bakery for the monthly “Sippin’ with the Supe’ event. Typically the event is held inside, but this month coffee and pastries were available on the outside deck, with administrators and school board member Tracy Kelly wearing masks and bundled up against the cold but clear weather. Only one parent showed up at the beginning of the event, but Larson-Everson said there are usually a number of parents and community members in attendance. Taking the time to meet face-to-face away from the schools — and bringing along key administrators — is an important element of her attempt to get to know the community, she said. Observations shared by the superintendent and those present included the continued impact that COVID-19 has had on schools — and also the opportunities it has provided. Among the challenges is the fact that there is such a range of opinion about how schools should manage during the pandemic, she said. This sometimes leads to frustration and conflict. On the positive side, the superintendent noted, are the huge advances that have been made in introducing more technology into the classroom. The next “Sippin’ with the Supe’ event is set for 7:30 to 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 1, at Kohnen’s Country Bakery, 125 W. Tehachapi Blvd. It is open to parents and other interested community members.