Though daily numbers of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are better than those of the summer, they are not good enough for Los Angeles County to consider reopening nonessential businesses and schools.
So Superintendent Matt Hill recommended Thursday to the local board of education that Burbank Unified School District campuses continue exclusively with distance learning for the wide majority of students through the fall semester.
The move will give the district staff more time to work on protocols to be better prepared to reintroduce students and teachers to campus when the time comes.
“When we bring students back to campus, we want to do it in a thoughtful, safe manner,” said Hill, who will host a special meeting on Thursday, Oct. 22, at 7 p.m. to answer questions from stakeholders regarding the eventual reopening of schools.
In Gov. Gavin Newsom’s ranking system, the county remains in Tier 1, a classification that indicates a widespread risk of COVID-19 infection and thus keeps schools and the majority of businesses closed. County Department of Public Health officials allowed small cohorts of special-needs students and English-language learners to return to campus in September.
Earlier this month, the county allowed districts to apply for waivers that would allow them to reopen campuses for students in transitional kindergarten through 2nd grade. However, Hill said that possibility “looks very cumbersome at this time” because only 30 schools throughout the county are granted approval each week and prioritization is given to schools with higher percentages of students receiving free or reduced-price meals.
The county grants waivers to individual schools, not districts, and Hill said that it may not be a practical approach for BUSD.
“We want to bring our schools back together so that parents with multiple children and our employees can plan.”
District staff members are still working on a schedule and procedures that would allow special education students to return in small groups and athletes to train on campus.
Board member Steve Ferguson supported Hill’s recommendation and said he’d like to work with him and staff members to “start identifying the population who are struggling in this learning environment, and for us to have collapsible interventions that, depending on health conditions, we can work with teachers and staff to get students the support they need.”