Still no confirmed cases of COVID-19, Kern Public Health says

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There are still no confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Kern County as of today, according to the Kern County Public Health Services Department.

In a conjoined press conference with the Kern County Superintendent of Schools, KCPH Director Matt Constantine said there are 30 travelers from China and Iran who have gone through the department’s 14-day monitoring program, of which 13 are still in the program.

Superintendent of Schools Mary Barlow said all public schools in Kern County will be closed as of the end of Wednesday until April 14 at the earliest.

“Being open the beginning of this week will allow schools to communicate with their parents, communicate with their staff, communicate most importantly with their students, and provide them with the necessary informational packets to continue instruction and have direction on how to access critical support services,” she said.

Barlow said it is possible that schools will need to stay closed beyond April 14, depending on the situation. She said the school year could be extended to make up for lost instruction.

“The decision to close schools was not taken lightly, and as an educational community, we acknowledge that school closures will cause extreme hardships for many of our families,” she said. “We felt it was in the best interest of our entire community to temporarily close at this time.”

KCSOS said students will still be able to get access to free meals. As an extension of the county’s summer meal program, the agency said meals will be distributed to children.

Constantine praised KCSOS for making the difficult decision to close schools.

“This four-week closure period will allow the schools a chance to re-evaluate their policies, to evaluate their cleaning programs, to do everything we can to protect our children,” he said. “Even though now school is being held in a traditional setting, we want to ensure that children and adults adhere to these guidelines that are being issued so that we don’t congregate in large groups and then further allow for the transmission of disease. This is a prudent decision.”

Full press conference:

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