Burbank Unified Schedules Q&A Session On Plans To Possibly Reopen Schools

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Burbank Unified School District office. (Photo By Ross Benson)

The Burbank Unified School District will hold an online Question and Answer Session to discuss current plans for the potential reopening of schools with a hybrid education model on Wednesday, October 21, at 7:00 p.m.

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Parents, students, teachers, staff and community members may indicate their interest in attending and/or submit questions in advance using the RSVP form here: https://tinyurl.com/y23t25he.

A link for the Zoom meeting will be emailed to those who RSVP. The deadline to RSVP and/or submit questions is 10:00 a.m. Tuesday, October 20.

The District has released a PowerPoint presentation for those interested in learning more about BUSD protocols for returning to in-person instruction.

The Q&A Session will talk about what a hybrid model for in-person education would look like, with smaller numbers of students on campus and in classrooms.

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“Based on the current health conditions and the limitations of the TK-2 waiver process, [I] recommend that schools remain in distance learning through this semester as it would be too disruptive to shift instructional models at this point in the school year,” Superintendent Matt Hill stated in a report given to the Board of Education at the October 15 meeting.

Burbank Unified School District office. (Photo By Ross Benson)

Hill “recommends that (1) staff continue to work on plans that would allow for Special Education students to return to campus for assessments and small group work, (2) that the District continue planning for athletes to return for conditioning, and (3) that District staff continue planning for the potential of distance learning and hybrid instruction when it is safe to do so based on health conditions and guidelines.”

BUSD will be emailing a commitment request to all families to select either a hybrid (some in-person, on campus education) or 100% Distance Learning model for the time when a return to in-person education may become possible.

“Depending on commitment request responses and/or health conditions we may not be able to return to in-person learning,” the District states in the PowerPoint presentation.

Additionally, the District notes that, “Given the fluidity of the COVID-19 situation, we will continue to monitor the situation before making final decisions.”

Special Education teacher, Debbie Gal, who teaches Severely Handicapped and Special Day Class students, spoke at the October 15 Board of Education meeting to express concern that SH/SDC students may be brought back before general education populations. She noted that SH/SDC students often have major behavior control difficulties and challenges with hygiene and following social distancing protocols.

Gal also mentioned that she and her students have developed a new and acceptable routine for 100% Distance Learning this semester and she worries that change in routine will be a major challenge for her students to adapt. She also noted that many of her students’ parents will refuse to return their children to in-person education until an effective vaccine is widely available.

Gal asked the Board of Education to consider this information when discussing how and when to return Severely Handicapped and Special Day Class students to the classroom.

Hill addressed Gal’s concerns during the October 15 meeting.

“We are definitely going to continue to work with our teachers, our staff, all of our employees as well as our families to make sure when we bring students back to campus, we do so in a thoughtful and safe manner,” Hill said.

“There’s a lot to figure out as Miss Gal says, when health conditions change, and we need to be thoughtful about that,” he added. “The safety of our students and our employees is definitely going to be our number one focus.”

Hill has noted in Board of Education meetings previously during the Fall ’20 semester that students who are doing well with 100% Distance Learning will be allowed to remain in that model for the rest of Spring 2021 semester if parents request.

“The Board and I have been talking about this. Let’s plan, let’s look through all the scenarios and let’s make sure health conditions support an appropriate time to implement that plan,” Hill said at the October 15 meeting.

“This is an incredible challenge,” Board member Steve Ferguson said. “It’s critically important that when it is safe to do so we get our kids back in school as soon as possible.”

“I want to continue working with the Superintendent and others to start identifying those populations who are struggling in this learning environment.. developing collapsible interventions that depending on health conditions we can start working with our teachers and staff to get those students the help and support they need.”

“While we all certainly hope that the next semester will bring in-person instruction, the reality is that destiny is up to us in terms of whether or not we continue to socially distance, whether or not we continue to do the work that has gotten the levels down to where they need to be,” Ferguson also said. “We are close. We need to continue to be doing that work.”

The Q&A Session will discuss BUSD plans concerning special populations such as students with disabilities, English Learners and Foster Youth/Homeless, in addition to general education students.

Prospective schedules and protocols, including cleaning and sanitizing procedures, are detailed in the PowerPoint and the online FAQ.

More information can be found on the District’s webpage devoted to re-opening schools here.

Currently, the Board of Education is scheduled to potentially vote on a return to in-person education at the last school board meeting of the year on December 17.

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