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.
“This is a challenging time and people are pushing; they want to go faster,” Hill said. “We understand and agree. … I want to share that as a school district in L.A. County, we cannot act alone. We must follow these health orders.
“We are using the guidelines to help create our plans but we can’t come up with a final plan until we have the orders. I wanted to clarify that because people have been asking, ‘Why can’t you just tell us what you’re doing? What are you going to do with masks? What are you going to do with social distancing? What’s it going to look like? Why can’t we have all students back in class?’”
Most of the questions can be answered with health orders from government officials, including Gov. Gavin Newsom’s order on Thursday for all Californians to wear face masks when in public.
“We’ve already had inclinations that for schools, that means students over the age of 2 and all adults will have to wear a mask,” Hill stated. “That’s why we’re giving the option of complete distance learning at home for families who don’t think their children will want to wear a mask or don’t feel safe to return. That’s one option we’re developing.”
The other possible choice students can opt for is the hybrid model that allows students to go back to campus — either in the morning or afternoon — Monday through Thursday and do some independent learning at home “built upon face-to-face instruction.”
No decision is final at the moment because the committee is still surveying teachers, students, parents and guardians, and staff regarding each model. Students will not be locked “into one model or the other.”
Hill added he received feedback from parents who prefer full-day instruction but shot down that idea because of health mandates.
“With social distancing, which is most likely going to be in the order, you cannot fit 24-36 students in the classroom,” he stated. “You have to have distance. We don’t have enough classrooms or teachers to be able to provide that.”
Fridays will be used as a day for teachers to prepare instruction for the upcoming week.
“The amount of work for teachers to teach half their class in two sessions and prepare for the at-home learning is immense,” Hill said, “and we want to make sure it’s rigorous, robust and teachers can plan, collaborate and give your students the quality of education you expect out of Burbank Unified.”
The district’s “crisis model” from the spring received backlash from many parents because of the grading policy of credit/no credit implemented. The superintendent assured students and the community that they heard their voices and will have letter grades in the fall.
One major issue for parents is the lack of child care in Burbank, and staff are addressing it by working with city officials and local partners.
“We understand this model creates child-care challenges,” Hill wrote in his weekly update on Thursday. “We are working with our city and nonprofit partners to identify ways to mitigate child-care needs. More information will be forthcoming.”
Hill encouraged families to continue sending feedback and to participate in the survey sent by his office.

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