Principal’s Message on August 17, 2021
The Independence High School Staff just completed two Inservice days in preparation for the start of the 2021-22 school year, and after trainings that included school safety protocols and building a culture of caring and engagement, we reaffirmed that it is the responsibility of educators to identify and provide academic, social and emotional supports so that every student may be successful.
To that end, there will be a number of classroom activities over the first three days that are intentionally designed to get students to be interactive, connect with the teacher and each other, and build the foundation for a respectful environment focused on learning. This is critically important when almost all 2300 students are expected to join us this Wednesday, as opposed to about 600 students who opted to receive in-person instruction 4th quarter last year. Many of our students haven’t been to school since April 2020; for some 9th graders, that means they haven’t attended in person since 7th grade!
First things first: All KHSD schools will be following the published KHSD Safety Plan, developed in accordance with state and Kern County Public Health (KCPH) guidelines regarding the operation of the schools. The safety plan may be found HERE. In short summary, mask wearing over the mouth and nose is required at all times indoors and on school buses, is recommended (but not required) when outdoors, and social distancing – while still recommended – is not required when wearing masks. Without social distancing restrictions, there is now no minimum required distance between students in the classroom, on the school bus, or during lunch. With these loosened restrictions, please have a discussion with your student about what your parental expectations are for them to avoid unnecessary risks for being infected by COVID. Extra masks, sanitizing wipes, and other personal protective equipment are available in every classroom and upon entry to campus. I also recommend students bring their own refillable water bottle to campus. Along with the outdoor water fountains, there are filtered water stations in the library and cafeteria.
I have included a number of links below to answer common questions at the start of the year. Most of them are embedded elsewhere in our webpages, but it is my hope that by collecting these key links in one location, it will help streamline getting the information you need.
Finally, please encourage your students to get involved in the many activities, clubs and sports on our campus. An involved student usually has more ‘buy in’ to further opportunities that education provides. Let’s get them as excited to be here as our staff is to see them!
Dean Juola, Principal
FAQs for the start of the school year:
- Where are the bus routes and schedules for Independence High School?
- They may be found HERE. Note that while masks are required and the windows must remain open, there are no distancing requirements in the seats.
- I don’t want my student going to school due to the COVID risk. Can they just stay home and log in to class like last year?
- No, teachers no longer instruct through Zoom. To choose 100% online learning, your student would enroll in KHSD’s Kern Learn Extension. Please contact your school counselor to learn how to enroll in this program.
- Are school rallies, sporting events, and other larger gatherings allowed?
- At this time – Yes – but note that school rallies must be outdoors, sports events are not currently but may be subject to crowd limitations, and we have split lunch into two periods with multiple food pick-up locations to generally avoid congestion. The daily bell schedule is found HERE.
- What if my student tests positive for COVID, or is identified as a ‘close contact’ to a positive case?
- First of all, if your student is sick with any of the symptoms of COVID, please keep them home and clear their absence with the school. If they’ve tested positive, please notify the school (you’ll be connected to the school nurse) to learn the test date, when symptoms began and identify the last date of exposure to others. She will also try to determine the close contacts, which is defined as any person who spends a collective 15 minutes or more in a 24-hour period with another person within 6 feet, masked or unmasked. The positive student and the close contacts will be required to isolate or quarantine based on the guidelines provided to KHSD. A simpler flowchart for the process and timelines may be found HERE.
- How does my student’s schoolwork continue if they are required to isolate/quarantine at home?
- If they will be out for between 3 – 15 days, your student is eligible for Short-Term Independent Study and will be contacted by a school administrator or counselor. Your student stays enrolled in their current classes and completes homework with their current teachers, but is assigned a facilitating teacher to check their progress, answer questions, and facilitate assignments with the regular teachers. This facilitating teacher is important as there is no online Zooms for the students to watch from home. Most of their work will likely be placed into Canvas by the regular teacher for your student to complete if they’re feeling well.
- If COVID cases and hospitalizations continue to get worse, is it possible that the schools could close again and go to 100% online or some kind of hybrid online learning?
- Yes, it’s always possible. I can’t predict the future, but I expect KHSD will follow state or county guidelines if directed to do so.
- Is there a way to track my student’s grades and attendance?
- Go to THIS LINK, click on the ParentVue button near the top in order to make and activate an account.