Bakersfield College students attending in-person classes express concerns for COVID-19

March 17, 2020 /

With the Health Department announcing Tuesday a non-resident tested positive while in Kern, college students were extra cautious when attending school Tuesday.

Last week, Bakersfield College made its first wave of moving 1,000 courses online. BC President Sonya Christian said in a video posted Tuesday she supports employees working remotely to lessen the risk of exposure.

“This systematic attention to detail in moving this large enterprise over 40,000 students to function effectively from a distance is no trivial task,” Christian said in the video. “However, with the talented and dedicated faculty and staff, we worked together side-by-side to take care of every operational detail as we moved course after course, service after service to a virtual environment, all the time focusing on our students.”

Although the college was primarily online as of Tuesday, some students still met for in-person classes.

BC student Angie Rodriguez attended class after her instructor told her Tuesday would be their last class on campus. Her instructor held class because she wanted to discuss what the rest of the semester will look like moving forward; to answer any questions or concerns; and to hand out the remaining packets of work.

“Please make your best effort to be in class,” Professor Kimberly Brown said in her email.

Some students have received similar emails, like BC student Citlali Andrade, who was still unsure Tuesday morning whether she would attend the Delano Campus to take her exam with the recent announcement of a non-resident testing positive for COVID-19 in Kern County.

Ultimately Andrade made her way to school to take her test, not wanting to hurt her grades. When she arrived, Andrade said she was shocked to find the campus almost completely empty.

“I just got to the Delano campus, and it’s so empty,” she said. “Usually there’s more cars, but today there’s like twenty cars here.”

However, not every student drives their own car to school. Laura Perez usually takes the bus to school, but she decided to skip today because she did not want to risk contracting the disease by being in close contact with others.

“My mom is over 60 and diabetic,” Perez said. “Usually it takes her awhile to heal, even little cuts and especially colds.”

Students wonder why they were still asked to attend class this week after all k-12 schools in the county and CSU Bakersfield announced temporary closures beginning Wednesday.

For some professors, it’s software training.

Professor Todd Jones met with his students to teach them the software they will be using online the remaining of the semester.

Students remain concerned to attend class in person. They have started an online petition asking BC Administration to immediately stop all in-person classes. The petition has more than 380 signatures.

Some of the students’ main concern is not particularly their own health, as their age demographic isn’t necessarily at risk, but the health of the people around them.

Rodriguez said she fears by attending class, she is taking the risk of bringing the disease home to her young children, including a  4-month-old baby.

As BC continues its efforts to move to online courses, Christian said, “BC will still be present for our students and still be present for our community, just not in the traditional face-to-face environment.”

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.

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Lizette Chavez

Lizette Chavez is a youth reporter for South Kern Sol. She is a student at Bakersfield College and has been selected to partake in South Kern Sol's CA 2020: Democracy Media Fellowship.