COVID-19 community education and response
July 18, 2020
At Community Action Partnership of Kern (CAPK) we believe that responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and slowing the spread of the virus is an action we take together as a community. Information and swift reaction are keys to ensuring the best outcome for everyone in Kern County.
CAPK operates 32 Head Start and Early Head Start childhood education sites in Kern County. Currently 11 of those sites are open and in operation during the summer term. These sites provide vital educational resources to the children of low-income essential workers across the county during their first five years of life.
In the past weeks the surging tide of community-wide COVID-19 cases has impacted CAPK’s Head Start program. Employees at several sites have recently tested positive for the virus. Proactive employee and client screening and sanitation protocols have identified potential risks and allowed us to respond immediately to these cases, support our staff, clean our facilities and reopen swiftly and safety. CAPK is not aware of any child or parent who has been impacted as a result of their enrollment with Head Start and Early Head Start.
On July 10, CAPK was notified of positive employee cases in two of our largest centers – the Harvey L. Hall and Pete Parra centers in Bakersfield. We responded immediately to close down the affected classrooms and notify employees and parents of the situation.
We identified all staff who may have been exposed to COVID-19. Those employees were sent home and will not return to work until multiple negative COVID-19 tests confirm they are ready to serve students again. All impacted classrooms will have a deep cleaning and sanitation process completed prior to reopening.
Head Start is operated through grants from the state and federal government that are focused on making sure all children have the opportunity to enter kindergarten prepared to excel – no matter their socio-economic status. CAPK is committed by those grants to remaining open and providing educational services to the children of essential low-income workers.
“CAPK Head Start provides vital educational tools to the children who face the most challenging paths to a productive future,” said CAPK CEO Jeremy Tobias. “Our agency has done everything within its power to deliver these critical services in the most safe and responsive environment possible. We want to urge the community and members of the public to take charge of their health and take the simple steps needed to stop the spread of COVID-19.”
CAPK encourages the public to limit all unnecessary social contact. Reports indicate social gatherings are a major driver of the spread of COVID-19. Please wear masks in public, practice social distancing and remain home and get medical assistance if you are ill or believe you have been exposed to the virus. Call 2-1-1 to connect immediately with assistance from CAPK and from 1,500 other social service agencies and organizations. To receive regular, up-to-date informational links regarding COVID-19, the public can text KERN COVID to 898-211.