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Heritage Oak School granted waiver to open

Heritage Oak School

Since the statewide closure of schools on March 17, 2020, students in Tehachapi have not been allowed on campus for in-person instruction. This fall, however, the state provided a waiver process that would allow for schools to apply for permission through their county public health department for students in grades K-6 as well as for campus programs that are disproportionately affected, such as those with special needs. Guidelines for the waiver included screening students for COVID-19 symptoms before entering campus, maintaining cohorts of 14 students or less, requiring social distancing and masks, and enforcing protocols for disinfecting the classrooms along with several additional requirements related to preventing the spread of COVID-19.

In September, Heritage Oak School was the first school in Tehachapi to be granted a waiver to return students back to campus. Now in their fourth week with in-person instruction, Head of School Amy Walker reported no student has noted an exposure, required quarantining or exhibited COVID-19 symptoms. "This has been so good for our students and the entire Heritage Oak community to return to campus for in-person instruction. While we have maintained online classes in the event anyone needs to quarantine at home, the majority of students are happier and perform much better when they can learn directly with the teacher. We look forward to bringing our upper school students back, hopefully in October, since Kern County metrics are improving."

Mrs. Emily Douglas, a third grade teacher at the school said, "Being back on campus has been such an answer to prayer! My students feel reinvigorated to learn and we are growing so much as a class. Each hoop we had to jump through to get these kids back on campus was worth it for their education and well being."

Since the COVID-19 closure, the faculty at Heritage Oak spent most of the summer training for online instruction in the event that the school would remain off campus and to prepare for the future of hybrid classroom education which is taking off at a rapid pace. Mrs. Walker shared that most schools will continue to offer some type of blended learning moving forward due to advances in technology and the changing needs of students and families. For now, she pointed out that snow days are no longer an issue since faculty and students can stay home during inclement weather and conduct classes remotely, then return to campus once conditions improve.

Heritage Oak is in its 26th year and is currently Tehachapi's only Christian education option. The school is WASC accredited and is a member of the Association of Christian Schools International and the Association of Classical and Christian Schools. A few seats still remain open in classrooms for 2020-2021. Parents interested in learning more about the school are encouraged to visit HeritageOakSchool.com.