BHUSD Considers Safety Practices for New School Year

With less than one week before the start of the new school year, the Beverly Hills Unified School District (BHUSD) Board of Education heard about safety and security practices, discussed a new district community pledge, and appointed Gabriel Halimi as board liaison to the Beverly Hills Education Foundation at its Aug. 9 meeting. Board members reviewed a new draft of the BHUSD Mission Statement, Vision Statement and Values and Governance Handbook after being “fine-tuned” and shortened substantially by cabinet members in recent planning sessions. The revised mission is simply “Educational Excellence” and bullet points the values: excellence, integrity, wellness, inclusion, safety, and community. 

“We feel like it’s important for us to leave it as a discussion for this evening, so people have a chance to look at it,” Board President Mary Wells said. “And give an opportunity for the community to give us feedback before we approve it at our next board meeting.”

In an increasing partnership between the district and the city, Beverly Hills police officers and firefighters will conduct emergency safety drills on campus at Hawthorne Elementary School the morning of Aug. 12, and “it might be a little noisy,” said Superintendent Dr. Michael Bregy.

 Beverly Hills first responders will practice advanced tactical drills, provide on-scene medical treatment for victims, with visually and audibly simulated discharge of weapons. The training exercise will provide a review of on-campus protocols, and police and fire department response during a major emergency. 

“We want to work with our police department on all of our schools, and we want our schools to be as familiar as possible to our police department,” Bregy said. 

Bregy also informed the community that the district is awaiting COVID-19 guidelines from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health before the first day of school next week. “As we are excited about starting the new school year, absent of those guidelines, I just want to remind people that masks are absolutely a choice and an acceptable part of our culture,” Bregy said. “And it has been, and it’s worked really well. As we’ve had masks required on and off, we’re going to start the same way with the school year, with preference.”

While masks remain optional, Bregy noted other layers of protection in place, including temperature checks, quality of ventilation and the “highest grade” MERV 13 air filters used at schools. 

“You’ve got to keep in mind that it’s not over,” Bregy said. “And you need to do what you need to do to feel safe. Nobody knows their kids better than their parents.”

“We’re kind of entering a new school year with parents allowed to be parents, and to make the decisions that are best for their family,” he added.

President Wells encouraged the public to attend in person or virtually for the next board meeting on Aug. 23 for the signing of a district community pledge and the approval of the new Mission Statement, Vision Statement and Values and Governance Handbook. 

“We’re looking at a community pledge, and that will be forthcoming as well for everybody to see,” President Wells said. “We really are excited about this upcoming year. I think that the work that we’ve done as a team and focusing in on what is our common goal and our common purpose, has really brought clarity to our thinking as we’re looking at the strategic plan and this upcoming year. I can say for certain that this board and the Cabinet, we couldn’t be more excited about starting this year and we are so behind this educational excellence for our school district.”