In an emergency meeting held this past Friday, March 13, the Burbank Unified District School Board voted to close all Burbank schools from March 16 through the 27 in wake of the global coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
Among those closed is Burbank High School. For the time being, the school is implementing online learning resources to continue curriculum progression.
“All districts are launching their version of distance learning platforms,” Burbank High School Principal, Thomas Crowther, said. “Ours will be a combination of resources. A lot of our teachers are already on Google Classroom. I know teachers who are already sharing their curriculum with one another, and collaborative efforts like these are powerful. We will be prepared when the time comes as we have a lot of good people working on this.”
With the school currently shut down, Crowther says that one major impact will be in regards to the seniors’ graduation ceremony. While money was previously being raised for the ceremony to take place on campus, recent events have forced a stop on donations.
“While we wait to see how this unfolds before making a decision on whether we can have a traditional graduation ceremony, we have determined we won’t have the time or resources to have it on our campus,” Crowther said. “We hope to still have graduation at Memorial Field, but we have to see how the next month or so unfolds.”
As spring sports have also been put on hold, Crowther says there’s difficulty in seeing student’s and athlete’s schedules being stopped after showing strong dedication to their work.
“My heart breaks for all students, especially our athletes impacted,” Crowther said. “ To see the seasons they have worked so hard for literally taken from them is hard. I also feel for our seniors for the same reasons, which is why we will wait as long as is reasonable to [be] making decisions on culminating events.”
Other than daily on-campus classes, more major student events are either canceled or up in the air. Grad Nite has been called off, and prom, which is planned for early May, is currently in limbo. A final decision will be made as to the date approaches.
While there is uncertainty regarding when Burbank High will resume its usual on-campus activities, preparation is key to moving forward.
“We are working with stakeholders on developing a plan for distance learning – a hybrid of online work and handouts – in preparation for the possibility of being closed longer, but we don’t know yet how long,” Crowther detailed. “Yes, Governor Newsome suggested last night that some schools will be closed into the summer months, but at this point it is speculation that could go one of a number of directions.
Our superintendent has kept the community informed. We know this week is a shuttered week after the Governor (officially) shortened the school year by five days. He’s likely to extend this, we think. We know next week is our scheduled Spring Break – but obviously it will be a different sort of week now. We are working with stakeholders on developing a plan for distance learning – a hybrid of online work and handouts – in preparation for the possibility of being closed longer, but we don’t know yet how long.”
There are more than 6 million California public schools closed as of right now, which has created a strange scenario for students and teachers alike.
“It had to be done in an effort to keep everyone safe, but now that we are several days into this week it is a pretty surreal feeling,” Crowther explained.
One of many tough aspects of the shutdown for Crowther is missing the student/faculty social aspect that goes along with working in education.
“I love being a principal and an educator,” Crowther said. “I love interacting with our students and staff. Suddenly, days are quieter, slower and less hectic. I miss the chaos if I am being honest.”
Crowther urges all BHS personnel to be cautious and good to their loved ones. In addition, he believes that the Burbank High School community will bounce back and make it through these tough and unpredictable times.
“Chances are that whoever you are in close proximity to these days are family you love, make sure you tell them that daily,” Crowther said. “Listen to the experts in the field of science and medicine, respect their guidelines. Stay strong and stay safe – we will get through this.”