No Large-Scale School Reopenings Before November

No campus in Los Angeles County will be allowed to reopen to all K-12 students until at least November, although schools can begin to offer small in-person classes for children with special needs at no more than 10% of campus capacity at one time, county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said.
Students, parents and educators had been hoping that progress against the coronavirus might allow campuses to reopen on a faster track. The small in-person classes for children who need special services, announced last week, could allow at least 200,000 students back to campus across the county.

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Virus Stats Improve, but Quick Return to Campus Unlikely

Confirmed coronavirus cases in Los Angeles County have declined since last month, a trend that has made local school district officials optimistic about being able to offer in-class instruction at the elementary school level relatively soon, but any hopes for reopening campuses in the near future were dashed Wednesday by county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer.
“At this point, [the Department of] Public Health will not be opening up our waiver process for schools,” Ferrer said in a statement. “We will be closely reviewing the guidance from the state and will be reviewing all options with [county supervisors] to ensure that schools are able to open as safely as possible for all children and staff.
“We do need to continue taking all of the steps that we were taking these past few weeks so that our community transmission rates remain low enough for us to continue our recovery journey,” she added in the county’s update, “and a very important piece of that recovery journey is getting our children back to schools.”

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BUSD Opens With Distance Learning, Determination

School districts across the state entered largely uncharted territory this week, opening the 2020-21 academic year with distance learning due to state and county restrictions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, but Burbank Unified School District Superintendent Matt Hill could not help but feel the exhilaration that typically comes with the first day of classes.
“[I want to] thank everyone for a very unusual, very challenging start of the school year, but at the same time still exciting,” he said during Thursday’s virtual board of education meeting. “It’s different, I will say. I’ve had my ups and downs this week.
“I miss seeing students with their backpacks and kindergartners having snack time for the first time and meeting their teachers,” Hill added, referring to the absence of students from BUSD campuses. “We miss that excitement, but what we gained, I think, is this doubling down and commitment to education.”
Virtual instruction commenced Monday with a few glitches that can be attributed to ongoing internet connectivity issues in Burbank. The district extended the hours of its help desk to assist any families with tech issues.

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Hundreds Sign Petition Urging Burroughs High to Change Mascot

Photo by Charles Hirsch / The Leader
An online petition has more than 1,300 signatures asking Burroughs High School to change its mascot, accusing it of being a racist symbol. Other residents argue that the mascot honors Native Americans and want to keep it.

More than 1,300 people have signed a petition that asks John Burroughs High School to change its mascot, the Indian, arguing that it is a racist and outdated symbol.
The online petition, which says it was authored by some members of Burroughs’ class of 2004, references a long-standing campaign by the National Congress of American Indians, which in 2005 signed a resolution opposing “the use of racist and demeaning ‘Indian’ sports mascots.”
“No one’s culture should be used as a mascot,” the petition reads, “and it’s time to choose something else to represent JBHS and its student population. As Indigenous community members have requested of the school repeatedly, this mascot needs to make an immediate change.”
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BUSD Evaluating Hybrid, Distance Learning Models for Fall

The COVID-19 pandemic has made planning ahead difficult in every industry, but instruction in the 2020-21 school year is starting to come into focus.
Burbank Unified School District Superintendent Matt Hill responded to public comments during Thursday’s virtual board meeting with a clearer vision of how students will be attending class in the fall.
Students will be given the option of continuing distance learning or a hybrid option that would include in-person instruction. However, details are still being discussed by the reopening committee, which is expected to present a framework in July.
The constant health updates and mandates by Los Angeles County and the state have made the process a difficult one, according to Hill, who was recently on a conference call with a L.A. County Department of Health official. The superintendent said county officials collected data from the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and the State Department to come up with health orders.
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Budget, Schools’ Reopening Are on BUSD Leaders’ Minds

Though no public meetings were on the Burbank Unified School District’s agenda this week, Superintendent Matt Hill updated the community on the state of the budget and the reopening of school for the 2020-21 year — issues that have prompted keen interest among residents in recent weeks.
No agreement had been made between Gov. Gavin Newsom and the Legislature as of Friday regarding the state budget, which is supposed to be ready by June 15. Suspension of operations because of health concerns due to the COVID-19 pandemic gave lawmakers less time to negotiate.
The May budget revise from the governor proposed drastic cuts in school funding, a big concern for small districts such as Burbank’s. BUSD would have to cut more than $13 million, and Hill urges parents and guardians to continue writing to political leaders.
“We need to continue your advocating and email the governor and the legislature,” Hill wrote in his weekly update. “Without the support of the governor and legislature, BUSD will be forced to adopt the governor’s May revise.”
The BUSD staff will have a study session on Wednesday, June 17, and the Board of Education will convene the following day for a regular virtual meeting at 7 p.m.
Hill also notified parents that the Reopening Committee — which is separated into four subgroups and takes into consideration guidelines provided by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and California Department of Education — will work with the Burbank Teachers Association and California School Employees Association and is expected to share proposed instruction models on July 2. Continue reading “Budget, Schools’ Reopening Are on BUSD Leaders’ Minds”

BUSD Projects Dour Budget Revisal; Considers Senior Celebrations

Photo courtesy Ryan Hirsch
Burbank Unified School District is considering ways to celebrate senior graduates.

Burbank Unified School District Superintendent Matt Hill expressed concern on Thursday about how Gov. Gavin Newsom’s revised state budget, taking into account economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, will impact local schools.
With a projected $54.3 billion deficit due to effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting shutdown, Newsom proposed a $203.3 billion budget on Thursday that would significantly cut school funding.
“If this budget is implemented, it will drastically impact BUSD,” Hill stated in his weekly letter to the BUSD community. “The California School Board Association has made it easy for us to stress the need to protect education funding.”
Hill encouraged community members to follow the CSBA’s online link — — and email legislators about protecting educational funding.
The BUSD Board of Education will convene for a special meeting to “discuss budget scenarios and fundraising priorities” on Tuesday, May 19, at 7 p.m.

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