After a year of meeting virtually, the Beverly Hills Unified School District (BHUSD) Board of Education held its first in-person regular meeting on March 9 at the Jon Cherney Lecture Hall at Beverly Hills High School (BHHS). The meeting took place the same week that elementary students returned to in-person instruction at Hawthorne and Horace Mann Elementary Schools. At Hawthorne, there are currently 409 students enrolled in hybrid learning, 110 students enrolled in virtual learning and 45 students are in the Independent Learning Center (ILC). At Horace Mann, 389 students are enrolled in hybrid learning, 166 students remained in virtual learning and 57 students are in the ILC. BHUSD Superintendent Dr. Michael Bregy began his report on Tuesday by congratulating staff on a momentous week, with more to come on the horizon. “Today we have moved from 7.2 as an adjusted case rate to 5.2. So, our next step is looking at reopening our middle school and high school,” he said.
Under state guidance, counties with an adjusted case rate of 25 or fewer cases per 100,000 residents are eligible to reopen elementary school. For middle and high school campuses to reopen, the adjusted case rate must fall to seven cases or below per 100,000 – a threshold that the County met this week.
“We want to thank teachers, our office staff, our security, office managers, administration at all of our schools,” Bregy said. “They did such a great job welcoming people back, and it was great to see everybody.”
Students in grade levels TK-2 returned on March 8, and grades 3-5 on March 9. All are required to comply with new safety protocols. Upon arrival, elementary students must show staff their completed health screening before receiving a stamp on the hand to signal that a student is clear to enter the school. The stamps also serve as a way to monitor and encourage hand washing among students. Students pass through thermal scanners when entering and are given different colored lanyards to indicate their grade level and allow staff to help direct students. Students who are placed in the morning cohort are in class from 8:30 a.m. to 10:50 a.m. and those in the evening cohort are on campus from 12 p.m. to 2:20 p.m.
Vaccines for School Personnel
“As I have indicated through some correspondence, we have allocations that are being provided to us for a vaccine for our employees through L.A. County,” Bregy said at the meeting. “And so last week, we started our first set of allocations.” Through a partnership with AmWest Ambulance, vaccines are being administered on BHUSD grounds and allow staff the chance to bypass a trip to one of the county’s mega vaccination sites. According to Bregy, 50 vaccine doses were allocated to the district last week. This week, that number rose to 100.
“Our biggest factor used to be the adjusted case rate,” Bregy said regarding the reopening of high school and middle school. “The biggest factor now is the L.A. County Department of Public Health providing us with a definition of what a stable cohort is and how a stable cohort will change into the intermingling of our cohorts with changing classes. We are expecting that information any day.”
Currently, cohorts are defined as groups of up to 14 students and two supervising adults that maintain stable membership and do not mix with other groups. However, the size of each group is dependent on the available classroom space to allow for the optimal six feet of space between all students and staff.
“Now that the case rate has changed and we are below seven, the county is looking at new metrics,” Bregy said. “And so, we don’t have a final say on how the metrics will be used. The most important thing, and I want to be really clear about this, is that we are below seven (adjusted case rate). We are well on our way to being ready to open our middle school and our high school.”
According to Bregy, middle and high school staff were given the required 10-day official notice to return on March 9.
He added: “We look forward to meeting with our labor partners, as these changes have just come in and we have not had the opportunity to sit down with them and discuss some of the changes.”