Three days before the spring recess, the Beverly Hills Unified School District (BHUSD) Board of Education convened for its second in-person meeting in the Jon Cherney Lecture Hall at Beverly Hills High School (BHHS). During the March 23 meeting, the Board heard updates on new county COVID-19 health protocols and what the April 8 return of students in grades 6-12 will look like. Additionally, the Board heard from two teachers who called in to express outrage following the Board’s approval of a reduction in force (RIF) initiative. The move resulted in 10 elementary school teachers receiving pink slip layoff notices last week after returning to in-person learning earlier this month.
Alana Castanon, a sixth-grade teacher at Beverly Vista Middle School and certified President of the Beverly Hills Education Association (BHEA) said: “Beyond the emotional disruption to the teacher’s lives, both personal and professional. These are the same teachers who have spent their year transforming and reinventing their teaching practice, helping to propel our District to great esteem with regard to our online education program.”
While the issue was not addressed again during the meeting, Board President, Rachelle Marcus, provided the Courier with this comment:
“Every year, the District asks students to sign an intent to return, and the administration looks at the staffing needs for the coming year based on that information,” Marcus told the Courier. “By law, teachers needed to be notified by March 15th if there is a possibility that their services will not be needed. This is a precautionary measure. No one wants to see this happen, but hopefully these notices will be rescinded and many of the teachers will once again be rehired. We are acting financially responsible, and the surplus has nothing to do with this decision.”
During the Superintendent’s report portion of the meeting, Dr. Michael Bregy shared that updated health protocols include maintaining three feet of physical distance between student desks, and six feet of distance between staff and student desks. Despite the opportunity to place more kids in the classroom now, Bregy said no changes are being made yet regarding class sizes. For students in grades 6-12, a stable group membership is not required, and it is recommended that interaction be limited to no more than 100 to 120 members, maximum.
With roughly 50 days of school left, about 40 percent of students have opted to remain in virtual learning and about 60 percent returning to in-person instruction. According to Bregy, as of March 23, the District received 1,312 registration responses. Of those, 246 students chose to remain in the Independent Learning Center (ILC), 653 chose to return to in-person and 413 students remaining in a virtual setting. The numbers are reflective of concerns voiced by many BHHS students in previous board meetings who would rather remain virtual than disrupt their schooling again. Within the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), survey results showed less than a third of students are likely to return to in-person learning this year.
“The decision is pretty simple,” Bregy said for BHUSD parents. “Keep what we have virtually for the next 50 days or so of school or come back to an in-person environment that’s a safe environment that fits within the county, state and CDC guidelines.”