New Hire Seen as Important to Schools’ DEI Effort

First published in the Oct. 9 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

Though COVID-19 vaccines were at the center of discussion among stakeholders during the Board of Education meeting on Thursday, the Burbank Unified School District reminded the community that it remains hard at work in implementing its diversity, equity and inclusion initiative.
The district announced that one of many of its goals was achieved on Thursday with the hiring of Stefani McCoy, who will serve as the BUSD DEI consultant and coordinator. The board voted 5-0 in favor of the hiring, which board member Emily Weisberg called an “exciting step.”
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BUSD Discusses Possible Student Vaccination Mandate

First published in the Oct. 9 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

After imposing a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for employees last month, the Burbank Unified School District shifted the conversation this week to possibly extending a similar requirement for eligible students.
Any decision by the district, however, appeared to have been rendered moot by Gov. Gavin Newsom’s announcement last week that the state would become the first in the nation to implement a vaccine mandate for all students.
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Saint Finbar School Ushers in New Class, Principal

First published in the Sept. 4 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

Students, parents and staff at Saint Finbar Parish School greeted each other on the first day of class last week with a new principal overseeing the Catholic school this year.
The Notre Dame High School marching band and cheerleading team welcomed visitors during the back-to-school event on Aug. 25.
Rosselle Azar, who was announced as the elementary school’s principal earlier this year, worked with teachers and staff members to coordinate the festivities after an extended period of distance learning. Continue reading “Saint Finbar School Ushers in New Class, Principal”

BUSD Says Its Employees Must Be Vaccinated

First published in the Sept. 4 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

With the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine officially approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Burbank Unified School District is following the lead of other educational institutions and districts in requiring all employees to be vaccinated.
The BUSD Board of Education stood firm on its decision, voting 5-0 to adopt the resolution despite pleas from some who work with the district opposing the vaccine mandate. Continue reading “BUSD Says Its Employees Must Be Vaccinated”

BUSD Will ‘Follow Research, Data, Health Guidelines’

Matt Hill

Each year we welcome back students, families and employees to our schools, but this year is extra special. We continue to persevere through a challenging pandemic.
Most of us have been impacted by this pandemic in many ways. However, with the rise of vaccines and the appropriate health guidelines, we are now in a position to return students and employees full-time to campuses this fall. We are going to continue to follow research, data and health guidelines to protect our students and employees. We will also have an independent study option for families who feel it is not safe for their child to return at this time.
As we start the school year, we have the opportunity to build upon the innovations and learnings from this past year to improve upon the excellent teaching and learning that takes place in our schools each day.
For the 2021-22 school year, the Board of Education has adopted the following goals:

  1. Students will be career/college ready via high-quality instruction
  2. Students will be physically, emotionally and mentally healthy
  3. Recruit and retain highly qualified employees
  4. Maintain efficient and effective operations
    To help our students with their academic and social-emotional needs, we are also implementing additional supports:
    • Expanded academic interventions
    • Expanded mental health resources via our partnership with Burbank Family Service Agency
    • Expanded focus on social-emotional learning at each of our schools
    • A stronger commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) via professional development and supports.
    By continuing to work together, we will build a stronger BUSD. Here’s to a great year!

Schools Celebrate Full Return to Campuses

Photo courtesy Sarah Varosky
Sarah Varosky drops off her son Eliott at Robert Louis Stevenson Elementary on Monday, which was the Burbank Unified School District’s first full day of in-person instruction since the pandemic began 17 months ago.

Superintendent Matt Hill of the Burbank Unified School District goes into every new school year feeling butterflies in his stomach, but he said the nerves he felt on Monday were replaced with joy when he saw students and teachers connecting on the first day of full in-person instruction in 17 months.

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BUSD Students to Return to Campuses on Monday

This article was originally published in the Burbank Leader on Aug. 14

The past 17 months have been anything but ordinary for California students and teachers who dealt with distance learning and, later, limited in-person instruction amid the coronavirus pandemic. But the Burbank Unified School District is ready for a semblance of normal life with a return to a full five-day, in-person schedule on Monday, Aug. 16.
“I am very excited,” said BUSD Superintendent Matt Hill in an interview on Thursday. “Last year’s school opening just wasn’t the same. To have our teachers and employees back on campus — I can’t wait. The energy we got in the fall from hybrid learning and full in-person [instruction] for the summer was a good start, and I feel comfortable with the safety measures we’ve been putting in place.”

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Teacher of Year Praised as ‘Amazing,’ ‘Beloved’

Amelia Cheatum

Amelia Cheatum is always happy to receive recognition for her work, but earning the Burbank Unified School District teacher of the year honor was extra special for the John Muir Middle School history teacher after seven challenging months of distance learning necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Every teacher I work with, even at the other [BUSD] schools, everyone worked so hard, and I think this year we were forced to try new things,” said Cheatum, who teaches 7th- and 8th-graders. “Some things worked, some definitely didn’t, but I think this year was special because when I go back to the classroom in a few weeks, I have all of these digital tools that I plan on using that I never would have used before.”

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BUSD Will Follow Rules on Wearing Masks at School

Amid a rise in coronavirus cases and a change in public health orders, the Burbank Unified School District this week assured stakeholders that all schools will reopen full time for in-person instruction next month, but that it must follow Los Angeles County health guidelines in carrying out the process.

The district reiterated its commitment to reopening under the guidance of the county as a response to two parents who expressed concern over requiring students, especially young children, to wear masks all day.

Aviva Williams came before the board during a virtual meeting on Thursday and asked that the district tell county Department of Public Health officials that students’ wearing masks in the classroom — a means of preventing COVID-19 transmission — does not make for a good learning environment.

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