Burbank Unified School District is planning for a full time return to all campuses for the Fall Semester and is currently holding an expanded Summer School session, Superintendent Matt Hill told City and school officials at the annual joint meeting of the Burbank City Council and Burbank Board of Education on Tuesday, June 8.
“We’ve been doing everything we can to make sure we keep our students and employees safe,” commented Hill. “That includes the partnership with the vaccine clinic. That allowed us, as we headed into this past Spring, we had a hybrid model where we still had the online learning as well as the in person.”
“As we’ve seen, numbers are getting better,” Hill continued, in reference to dropping coronavirus infection and death rates in Los Angeles County. “So this week we started an expanded summer school program. Mostly in person but with some online options for students. That’s credit recovery as well as… initial credit courses. We’ve expanded that. So we’re not just talking about learning loss. We’re talking about the positive.”
“There was an opportunity this year that students can learn at their own pace and time. So we want to make sure that we help students that struggle, catch up. But then also those that want to expand their learning, so expanded learning is what we’ve been doing this summer.”
“We’re building on the lessons learned from this spring as well as this summer,” Hill continued. “On August 16, we’re going to be open full time again.”
“So this is back to what we call the new – or, the better – normal. It’s going to take the lessons learned about how you do better parent engagement virtually, how you have more technology ingrained in the classroom, you have a lot of creativity with our teachers and our support staff. So we’re rolling out those additional supports as well as mental health and social-emotional supports this fall.”
“I want to make sure the City knew, because crossing guards, the services you provide after school, we all need to be planning for that better normal,” Hill also said. “August 16 is going to be the first day of school, back in person full time, five days a week for our families. So we all need to continue to brainstorm and partner and that’s why I’m glad we’re having this meeting and the conversations that staff have already been having prior to this meeting between the City and the school district.”
Board Clerk Steve Ferguson suggested that City Council members pair up with Board of Education members to visit school sites on the first day of school together.
“I also think it’s important to acknowledge, too, when we talk about reopening, that the schools have never closed,” commented Board member Emily Weisberg. “We never stopped working, we never stopped teaching, we never stopped providing for our students if you look at the number of meals the District has provided, if you look at the amount of work our teachers have put in.”
“It will be nice to be back in the same place, in our physical spaces again,” she added. “But, we never closed, we just started to figure out ways to educate our students in different ways and different capacities.”
Weisberg also noted the “exceptional” work done by the BUSD technology department to provide students and families with equipment and online access to learn from home.
“So many people, not just in Burbank but across the country, were not able to go to work because they had to have their kids at home. It was an extreme privilege of mine to be able to work from home and have my son at home and take care of him. Many families did not have that ability,” commented Councilmember Konstantine Anthony, who also expressed his hope that vaccinations would soon be approved for younger children as well.
“I think there are a lot of lessons we’ve all learned in the last year,” said Councilmember Nick Schultz. “It’s great to hear that the District is going to be taking some of the tools, the resource aids that you’ve learned through this remote learning. I think both of our bodies can take those lessons moving forward, too. When we talk about families with child care issues, I think that while technology is a poor substitute for in person learning and in person meetings, it’s a wonderful tool to give people another way to engage with the school board, with the City Council.”
Burbank Unified re-opened school sites for a limited in person education on weekday afternoons on Monday, April 12, following Los Angeles County Public Health guidelines, which included mask-wearing and social distancing. The end of the Spring Semester was Thursday, May 27. BUSD’s expanded Summer School runs from June 7 through July 15.