With the closures of local colleges, universities, and K-12 schools, Kern County’s young people and families are left to rearrange their lives and adjust to alternate methods of education amid the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic.
Bakersfield College announced it would be transitioning to online modalities of learning on March 12. Though there was a transition period in which educators could opt to move their classes online, BC is to move fully online as of Wednesday, March 18.
CSU Bakersfield’s President Lynnette Zelezny also announced the closure of in-person classes shortly after BC on March 12.
CSUB is trailing behind various CSU’s with a plan to fully transition to online modalities of learning on Wednesday, March 18.
These closures have left families struggling to find resources like childcare and for college students to find access to technology like laptops and WiFi that would enable them to attend classes remotely.
CSUB student Eduardo Lalo Martinez is worried that his education will suffer as a result of the move to online classes at his university.
“[I’m] sitting in a classroom for four years, then quickly changing to online classes. It’s a pretty big change,” Martinez said. “There’s more room for distractions, and I don’t feel that I will receive the full extent of the education I paid for.”
Other students fear social isolation and are concerned about the lack of comradery that will come with social distancing.
“Switching to completely online is pretty devastating,” said CSUB student Abby Soto. “There’s something about going to campus, talking with people in class, knowing the professors and being able to communicate with others that makes school more fun.”
Some students find accessing reliable internet to be their biggest barrier to online learning. Without a consistent internet connection, students cannot engage with their professors or participate in virtual classrooms.
CSUB student Leslie Campos has already experienced the downfalls of online learning with an inconsistent internet connection. Due to poor weather, she missed the majority of her lectures as she could not connect the internet. Incidents like these are why Campos, along with many of her peers, are resistant to the shift towards online learning.
As fears about the possibility of infection grow among Kern County’s youth, many students are refusing to attend in-person classes as a safety precaution, according to BC student Dylan Elhindi.
Multiple professors from both BC and CSUB also opted to transition to online classes before the mandatory date out of safety concerns as well.
CSUB students Sara Fazzi Garcia and Candice Livingston are practicing social distancing to avoid contact with others while on campus. For Livingston, she is implementing social distancing to guard her health due to respiratory issues. For Fazzi, she is staying home to protect the health of her son who suffers from asthma.
Though President Trump addressed the COVID-19 pandemic in a press conference on March 16, advising that no groups larger than 10 people should gather, CSUB is continuing to hold in-person classes through March 23.
On Tuesday, the Kern County Public Health Department said there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19; however, a non-resident who is visiting Kern County has tested positive for the disease.
Kern Sol News is a youth-led journalism organization in Kern County. In their stories, reporters shine light on health and racial disparities in under-served communities across Kern. For more stories by South Kern Sol, head to southkernsol.org.