ug. 18 marked the first day of the 2020-2021 school year for the Beverly Hills Unified School District (BHUSD), launching a semester like no other before. As planned, the District has begun instruction by utilizing distance learning. Under the “Return 2 Learn” reopening plan, students chose one of two options: A virtual learning plan called the Independent Learning Center (ILC) and a distance learning option called Live@BHUSD that includes increased expectations for live instruction and classes held in a routine that mirrors the bell schedule. When deemed appropriate and safe, students will return in phases to the physical classroom.
On Aug. 17, BHUSD Superintendent Dr. Michael Bregy addressed the community, wishing students good luck and imparting words of encouragement. “The first day of school can be stressful in normal times,” Bregy said. “This year, as you know, we’re starting school from home, which might make you feel a little anxious or a little worried. We’re here to help. From your teachers, your counselors, to our technology support team, your principals and our team here at the district office, any support that we can offer you to make your first day as great as possible is here.”
Bregy laid out a simple checklist for students to ensure a successful first day of school. He advised students to make sure they had a quiet place to work; get dressed; eat breakfast; make sure computers and iPads are charged; take three deep breaths; and confirm they know how to log on to their first meeting.
“I’m so excited for you to meet your teachers and see what they have planned for you,” Bregy said. “They’ve been working really hard and it’s going to be a fantastic year. Please don’t worry if things take a little while to get used to. Let’s all show patience and kindness to one another, especially tomorrow.”
Last week, students picked up canvas tote bags with their textbooks, class materials and branded water bottles with each respective school’s logo printed on it – courtesy of BHUSD staff, PTA members and volunteers.
“We are very pleased with the start of the school year,” BHUSD Assistant Superintendent, Dustin Seemann, told the Courier. “From elementary all the way up to secondary level our students have been contacted by their teachers, engaged already in lessons and starting to interact with their peers. With any new school year there are always a few bumps and bruises along the way, we are continually working to make sure our communication is clear, our students are engaged, and our teachers are delivering rigorous curriculum to set the stage for a great year ahead!”
Cafe@BHUSD, a new weekly meal pickup plan for students, opened on Aug. 19. While distance learning is in place, all lunches will be distributed weekly from Beverly Hills High School for all students in the District, with staggered pickup times on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Student schedules begin with a whole-school team building assembly, followed by class check-in where attendance is taken, and then six class periods. The day concludes with class check-out, where students regroup to review the expectations for their homework with their teachers.
“Both Horace Mann and BVMS have been so organized and communicative,” BHUSD parent, Cynthia Wyse, told the Courier. “They are doing a great job with a difficult task. Both my girls are new to the district and their schools and have been made to feel welcome and included.” However, other parents feel that one week in, their children are falling behind in school. A BHUSD parent who wished to remain anonymous told the Courier, “Fourth grade teachers are not teaching this week! They are only spending some time in the morning getting to know the students and have individual conferences for the rest of the week. This year will be a disaster!”
“The first day of school on Aug. 18 was much like every year but with a twist,” BHUSD Director of Public Relations, Rebecca Starkins, told the Courier. “It was filled with smiles and tears and smooth transitions and bumpy moments! If we add in the pressure of being 100 percent distant due to the Governor’s order for LA County, it went extremely well considering the uncontrollable factors. Our teachers have created exceptional content for each class and our students brought their very best too. We are so proud of the BHUSD community for a sensational start to the school year in a truly unprecedented way!”