BHUSD Unveils “Ready Together” Plan

On Oct. 13, the Beverly Hills Unified School District (BHUSD) held a regular Board of Education meeting during which Superintendent Dr. Michael Bregy discussed the District’s “Ready Together” uniform plan to safely reopen and return to the physical school. The plan was first published on Oct. 4, not as an academic reopening plan but a physical one based on guidance from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Order, the California Department of Public Health Order, and outside expert opinions. L.A. County, which is currently in the purple “widespread” tier, must achieve 14 consecutive days of less than an eight percent positivity rate and less than seven daily new cases per 100 thousand people before moving to the red tier, and allowing for in-person instruction. While all K-12 schools in purple tier counties are prohibited from physically reopening, the L.A. County Department of Public Health updated their Health Order in September, allowing schools to submit an application to offer in-school instruction for small cohorts of students with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) and children who are English Learners (EL) needing assessments and/or specialized in-school services.

After much interest surrounding the school waiver program for in-person instruction offered for students in transitional kindergarten (TK) through second grade, Bregy informed the Board that BHUSD is unlikely to be a recipient. A motion was approved by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Sept. 29 to begin accepting applications in early October. Public health officials can grant up to 30 waivers per week, with priority given to schools with a large population of low-income students who qualify for free and reduced-price meals. “We are not in a place with our low-income students to be one of the first that is awarded,” Bregy said during the Oct. 13 meeting. “As you can see, with our Hawthorne TK-2 low income data, we’re at about 2.4-2.5 percent, and then also Horace Mann is at about 6.37 percent. And so, there are schools throughout L.A. County that have 80 to 90 percent of low-income learners.” Bregy added, “This is something that is not a sure thing, as they will start to award these waivers to school districts and schools with the highest level of low-income learners.”

While BHUSD is not able to bring back the student body in its entirety yet, the 77-page “Ready Together” reopening plan provides a thorough blueprint for all on how to safely return to–and stay in–the physical classroom. The plan includes workplace policies and practices to protect employee and student health; measures to ensure physical distancing; measures to ensure infection control; communication with employees, students and families of students and the public; and measures to ensure equitable access to critical services. “The County has actually asked for a copy of our plan so that they could use this as an exemplar for other school districts,” Bregy said during the Oct. 13 Board Meeting. “There’s a lot of detail that’s in this plan that has never been shared before and 80 percent of this is new,” Bregy added. Measures such as
signage, tape, furniture removal and plexiglass are in place to ensure physical distancing as students, parents or visitors enter and move throughout all school buildings on every campus. Classroom furniture has been rearranged and set up to ensure 6 feet between students at their desks/tables and between students and teachers. “We’re looking at our workspace, our indoor space and our outdoor space because it’s really going to take the creativity of being able to use the entire footprint of our school district and our site in order to ensure that we have the safest environment,” Bregy said. “It may be outside of what somebody would consider to be typical or traditional, but we’re getting really creative about how we can use our space.”

New signage, decals, and informative illustrations are up throughout campus, reminding students and staff to keep physical distance. Appropriate PPE has been secured and is being stored onsite. Gym class activities will be offered outdoors, and air filtration systems have been refreshed District-wide. A multitude of touch-free hand sanitizing stations have been installed on all school sites and water fountain usage has been removed. Face coverings are required, and staff will be deployed in common areas to reinforce their proper use. Buffet style meals will no longer be offered, and physical barriers will be in place to limit contact between cafeteria staff and students. BHUSD has secured a partnership with an on-site COVID-19 testing provider and all personnel will be offered regular testing. BHUSD will also be equipped to test students immediately on-site for the virus if need be.

All positive cases must be reported to County health officials. If there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 inside a class, the entire classroom will go home. If there are multiple positive cases in more than one classroom cohort, the school will pivot back to distance learning. If there are three or more positive COVID-19 cases over a 14-day period reported within BHUSD, health officials may categorize it as an outbreak. If 25 percent of schools in the District close within a 14-day period, the District would close. For BHUSD, one school closure would result in a District closure. “We’re going to continue to update this document as things change and evolve as this is happening every day,” Bregy added.

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