School Reopening/COVID-19 Response

Latest Communication

Update on the reopening of schools

Dear Benicia Unified Families,

We hope this communication finds you well and enjoying the last few weeks of summer vacation.  Just a reminder that school begins on August 17, 2020, this year. 

We wanted to take this opportunity to recap the July 23, 2020 Board meeting presentation where we outlined key points regarding the start of school this year.  Governor Newsom outlined several points in his guide and mandate on July 17, 2020, for the safe reopening of schools.  Two of these points are relevant to BUSD in opening virtually this fall.  These were:

Safe in-person school based on local health data

  • Schools located in counties that are on the Monitoring List must not physically open for in-person instruction until their county has come off the Monitoring List for 14 consecutive days.
  • Solano is on the monitoring list.
  •  

Rigorous distance learning

  • Devices and connectivity will be provided as needed so that every child can participate in distance learning
  • Daily live interaction will occur for every child with teachers and other students
  • Class assignments that are challenging and equivalent to in-person instruction
  • Targeted supports and interventions for English learners and special education students 
    1. In BUSD we will offer targeted supports for students who are struggling and meet identified criteria

Bulleted below are just some of the differences families can expect to see when school resumes virtually this fall.

Emergency Distance Learning March-June 2020: Little to no preparation time No attendance requirements No statewide or local assessments Modified grading system Live instruction not required - Structured Virtual Learning Fall 2020: Scheduled and required professional development for all teachers in the areas of virtual instruction, equity, data, curriculum, and social-emotional wellness Attendance required and recorded Local universal assessments throughout the year in reading and mathematics for all students Current grading practices (numbers in elementary and grades in secondary) Live synchronous and asynchronous instruction will occur daily (Senate Bill 98)

BUSD is committed to supporting all students experiencing success during their Virtual Schooling. This commitment includes:

  • Robust virtual learning through rigorous and expanded curricula and essential standards including student mental health and connectedness.  Every effort has been made to ensure that high-quality core and supplementary materials are available for teachers to use both in the classroom and virtually.  All of the BUSD adopted materials will be utilized; however, several additional instructional materials were added to ensure that students could access the tools and resources they needed from home. 
  • Synchronous and asynchronous live interaction and learning daily, including attendance and accountability. Students will have live interactions with their teachers and peers daily.  This means there will be assigned times at the elementary and class periods at the middle and high schools where students must attend synchronous learning activities with their teachers and peers Monday-Thursday. Fridays will be asynchronous learning days for students; however, teachers will schedule check-in and support times for students. Synchronous instruction means that Learning happens live with the teacher through video or audio instruction.  In addition to the synchronous interactions, students will have work to complete during asynchronous times.  Families will need to expect that students will be virtually attending school and working on work between the traditional school hours each day. Students are expected to attend all mandatory classes and check-ins as required by their teachers and in alignment with Senate Bill 98. Attendance is required and will be documented daily.  If a student does not participate in full virtual learning, they will be marked absent. 
  • Ensuring all students have devices, internet access, and a common virtual platform.  BUSD has ordered Chromebooks (like all Districts we are hopeful they arrive in time), and will be providing all students with devices and supporting families to ensure they have access so they are fully able to engage in their learning opportunities.  For grades TK-8, please click on the following link if you need to request a Chromebook.  We will send further details regarding the distribution process in a separate communication. All students and teachers will use Google Classroom as the platform for their learning and instruction. The Instructional Technology Department has set up a live chat to support families in real-time to solve technology issues. This live chat will be available Monday – Friday 7:30am – 4:00pm, starting the first day of school, and can be found on the technology page in the bottom right hand corner. 
  • Ongoing assessments and progress monitoring to support learning. BUSD will be using an assessment system called NWEA MAP for all students in grades K-12 in English and Math.  This assessment platform allows for ongoing benchmark and monitoring of student progress in identified skill areas as well as the broad content areas.  Data from this assessment will be used to identify the direction for instructional practices for the classroom as well as students in need of additional intervention support.   NWEA Map is a high-quality tool that is aligned with the statewide assessments and has been proven to be predictive of how students will fare on those assessments.  This is important because teachers will be able to identify areas of concern and address those areas specifically early on. 
  • Intervention and supports: BUSD will be providing support intervention services and Special Education services in a myriad of ways to students.  Students who require these support to be successful and continue to grow on their learning journey will receive extra support virtually in small groups more frequently than their regularly scheduled synchronous learning times.   BUSD staff will work with families to create a consistent schedule for these support sessions. Students who receive extra intervention support will be assessed using a progress monitoring protocol to ensure that they continue to grow as learners and strengthen their skills in the identified areas.
  • Expanded communication with families.  All parents can request to be added to their child’s Google Classroom as a “guardian.” This means that parents will receive notification regarding assignments for their child’s class.  In addition, school sites and the District Office will communicate via newsletter and updates as much as practicable.  The District will host opportunities for families to provide input and feedback on a variety of topics throughout this year. 
  • Professional Learning focused on creating virtual learning environments.  All staff have access to high-quality professional learning in areas of focus throughout the summer and the school year.  In coordination and cooperation with the Benicia Teachers Association, BUSD created a Virtual Learning Platform with a variety of topics including creating robust online learning classrooms, equity and culturally responsive practices, curriculum and instruction, data and technology, special education, and social-emotional learning.  In addition, the Virtual Learning Platform includes all mandatory yearly training for staff. 

 

What to expect on August 17, 2020

  • Students will be enrolled at their normal school and assigned to the school’s typical bell schedule
  • Daily instruction will be both synchronous and asynchronous
  • Supports for students, including student well-being, will be available in addition to instructional time
  • Students will have an individual learning device (the devices are currently on order), and necessary curriculum to fully participate in their classes
  • Households that need connectivity will receive support
  • Attendance will be taken each day and for each class
  • Standards-Based Report cards at the elementary level and grades at the secondary level for all students

Several SAMPLE schedules were presented (see slides 30-31) at the board meeting.  These SAMPLE schedules are to give families an idea of what a typical day will look like during Virtual Learning. At all levels and in all classrooms, teachers along with their site administrators will set a consistent daily schedule.  At the elementary level, students may be assigned a “cohort” group and have several times to attend synchronous learning throughout the day.  Some classes and subjects or lessons may be more effective taught in a small group setting. Each family will receive communication about their child’s schedule soon. 

Registration opened on Monday, August 3, 2020, please check your email for registration information and click on this link for assistance. Registration will close on August 16th, please be sure to complete it as soon as possible. More communication will be forthcoming from your sites with specifics about what to expect for the beginning of the school year.

As always, we thank you for your support and flexibility as we adapt to the frequently changing requirements and landscape of education in the era of COVID-19.  

Sincerely,
Leslie Beatson, Ed.D.
Assistant Superintendent, Education Services

Important Message: Start of School Update 7-17-2020

Benicia High School Liberty High School Benicia Middle School Maty Farmar Elementary Joe Henderson Elementary Robert Semple Elementary Matthew Turner Elementary Benicia Unified School District

Dear Benicia Community,

On behalf of the Board Trustees and myself, we hope this communication finds you healthy and safe during this challenging and ever changing time in our society due to Covid-19.  The complexity and unpredictability of this pandemic is calling upon all of us to be flexible and responsive in our decision making in order to protect and preserve the health and safety of those we serve.  

With that said the Benicia Unified School District will begin the school year in an all virtual learning model.  We intend to work in the virtual learning model for the first quarter of the year. To remain responsive, we will review the status of our virtual learning model at each Board meeting throughout the first quarter.

While we intended to make this decision at our July 23rd Special Board meeting, the rate of case increase in our community, information gathered from our workforce and families, and uneven guidance being shared at the state and local level have compelled us to move up our decision making timeline.  On July 23rd we will instead focus on the details of the virtual learning model and the hybrid learning model that we intend to move into when we can safely move forward.

We know for some of you, this decision might come as a relief and for others, it will cause further challenges.  We all want students back in school, there is no disagreement there, but we must do so through exercising an abundance of caution. We are also reviewing the status of our childcare program to determine if we can safely expand capacity to support more of our families.  

If you are not able to watch the Board meeting of July 23rd, please know the meetings are recorded and posted on our website for your convenience.  We will also put together a summary of key points and make that available to you in a Superintendent update..  

Thank you so much for being patient, supportive and committed to the safety and well being of everyone in our community.  The Board and I wish there were easier answers to all of this but unfortunately, there are not. For now, we believe this is the most prudent course of action for the start of our school year together. 

Charles F. Young, Ed.D.
Charles F. Young
Superintendent 

Mark Maselli
Mark Maselli
Board Trustee

Diane B. Ferrucci
Diane B. Ferrucci
Board President

Sheri Zada
Sheri Zada
Board Trustee

Stacy Heldman-Holguin, Ed.D.
Stacy Heldman-Holguin
Board Clerk

Gethsamane Moss, Ed.D.
Gethsamane Moss
Board Trustee

Reopening Update

Dear Benicia Families

I hope this communication finds you are well and resting!  I wanted to share an update, timeline and parent survey with you to keep you all informed regarding our next steps in terms of reopening schools.

At the June board meeting, The Board Trustees approved BUSD in moving forward the models presented.  These can be found at https://beniciaunified.org/f/ncov/ although we have made an adjustment to the middle school model which includes  AM/PM. sessions, much like the elementary schools.   We are planning for several scenario models that include Virtual Only, 50% hybrid in person and full return.  We are continuing our planning expecting we will be starting with either 100% Virtual or the 50% hybrid return model.  If we are able to start with the 50% hybrid model the plan so far is:

  • Elementary, BMS and LHS: AM or PM session, Monday-Thursday
  • BHS will offer a combination of Virtual instruction twice a week for each class and in-school small group sessions twice a week for each class.  
  • Fridays at all sites would be an at-home  independent work day

That said, we must continue to respond to the Covid-19 risk factors in Solano County in relation to the 4 phases established by the Governor and this constantly changing landscape. We know this information is changing daily. We continue to monitor and receive guidance from local health officials. 

There will be a special board meeting on July 23, 2020 at 7 PM where updates and reviews of the models will be discussed.  Depending on the data at that point, the Board may take action regarding which model to begin with on the first day of school, August 17, 2020. (*Note this is a date change for the first day of school that was originally scheduled for August 18, 2020.  The updated 2020-2021 School calendar is LINKED HERE.) 

Linked in this communication is a survey (by school site) to all parents soliciting their preference for returning to school in August.  This information will help inform our plans for the opening of school regardless if we are virtual or hybrid.  Please fill out the appropriate surveys for your children who are or will be enrolled in BUSD for the 20202-2021 school year.  We are asking that you fill out one survey per student. 

We will be offering expanded childcare for elementary through our CDU program at all the elementary schools.  The information can be located on our website.  This childcare would allow families to have their children attend their classroom instruction  if we start with the 50% hybrid model (i.e. AM in the classroom) and then move right into childcare (i.e. PM in CDU.) We believe we will have the capacity to meet the needs of our families with our expanded childcare services, and still follow licensing/CDC safety guidelines. If we need to, we will use a system of prioritization for essential workers and teachers. 

We are also communicating with the City of Benicia’s Kids K program to keep them apprised of our plans (knowing these may need to change) so they can plan accordingly.

We understand that families need to plan for what the fall will look like.  Please know we want to bring students back as much as possible, as long as we can do this safely for our students,  staff and community.  Please take a moment to complete the appropriate survey(s) below by Tuesday, July 21, 2020. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we navigate through the myriad of requirements and recommendations for opening up schools safely.

Benicia High School Survey

Liberty High School Survey

Benicia Middle School Survey

Robert Semple Elementary

Matthew Turner Elementary

Mary Farmar Elementary

Joe Henderson Elementary

Sincerely,
Charles Young, Ed.D.
Superintendent

Update on Reopening School Models

Dear Benicia Families.  

I hope this communication finds all of you safe and well.  In my previous update, I discussed the work we would be undertaking to develop educational models for the fall.  As you can imagine, this is no small task in light of the many uncertainties related to COVID-19.  The Design Team, comprised of teachers, parents, administrators, and a board trustee, has done an outstanding job reflecting deeply on the needs of our students, staff, and parents while also responding to state and local guidance measures specific to COVID-19.  

I have included a link to the presentation made at last night’s school board meeting regarding our latest, best thinking for what school could look like in the fall.  The presentation goes into great detail and I sincerely hope you are able to take time to view it, knowing we are doing our level best within the various limitations and constraints all school districts are having to address. (https://youtu.be/GhVzduSHb0E)

We will continue to communicate details throughout the summer as elements of the plans get worked through further, including any parts that may need to be bargained with our employee unions, shifts in the COVID-19 guidance, or how the state budget, that is required to be passed by the end of this month, will affect our planning. 

In addition, we will be sending out a survey in the near future that we will need all families to complete in order to gather information to help us solidify plans for the fall. 

We deeply appreciate your partnership and patience as we continue to dedicate our efforts to serving our students in the best manner possible.   

Sincerely,
Charles F. Young, Ed.D.

Revised Food Service Extended Date through June 5th

REVISED FOR EXTENDED SERVICE DATE

Dear Parent(s) or Guardian(s),

This memo has been revised with the EXTENDED SERVICE DATE listed below. You are receiving this letter to inform you that during the school closures, the Food and Nutrition Services Department will be serving free student meals for all of our students.

Parents or students may drive or walk up to any of the locations listed below to pick-up breakfast and lunch for their students.  Each student will receive a lunch for the day and a breakfast for the next day. They will be put together in a grab-and-go bag for your convenience.

Student Meal Pick-Up Procedures:

  • New Extended Date: Monday April 6 through Friday June 5 (served Monday through Friday). We will be closed Monday May 25th for Memorial Day Holiday.
  • Locations:
    • Robert Semple Elementary School
    • 2015 E 3rd St, Benicia, CA 94510
    • *Entrance of the Staff Parking Lot
    • Time: 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM
    • Benicia High School
    • 1101 Military W, Benicia, CA 94510
    • *Turn into Plaza de Oro and keep right pass the gates until you see us
    • Time: 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM
    • 91 Riverview Terrance Complex
    • *Look for the Benicia USD Van
    • New Time: 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM, (starting March 30)

If you have previously signed up for these student meals, there is no need to reply to this email.

If you have not signed up for these student meals, please reply to this email: tcourtney@beniciaunified.org and let us know if your child(ren) will pick up a free student meal and which Pick-Up Location will be used. Please include the student name(s), so we can anticipate how many student meals to prepare.

Sincerely,
Tania P. Courtney
Director of Nutrition & Food Services Department
Benicia Unified School District
1101 Military West, Benicia, CA 94510
Phone: (707) 748-2758
E-mail: tcourtney@beniciaunified.org

 

 

 

REVISADO PARA LA FECHA DE SERVICIO EXTENDIDO

Estimado padre (s) o tutor (es),

Esta nota ha sido revisada con la FECHA DE SERVICIO EXTENDIDA.Usted está recibiendo esta carta para informarle que durante los cierres de la escuela, el Departamento de Servicios de Alimentos y Nutrición estará sirviendo comidas gratuitas para estudiantes para todos nuestros estudiantes.

Los padres y los estudiantes pueden conducir o caminar hasta cualquiera de los lugares enumerados a continuación para recoger el desayuno y el almuerzo para sus estudiantes. Cada estudiante recibirá un almuerzo para el día y un desayuno para el día siguiente. Se colocarán en una bolsa para llevar para su conveniencia.

Procedimientos de recogida de comidas del estudiante:

  • Fechas:             Lunes 6 de abril hasta el viernes 5 de junio  (servido de lunes a viernes). Estaremos cerrados el lunes 25 de mayo para el Día de los Caídos.
  • Ubicaciones:
    • Robert Semple Elementary School
    • 2015 E 3rd St, Benicia, CA 94510
    • Entrada del estacionamiento del personal
    • Hora: 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM
    • Benicia High School
    • 1101 Military W, Benicia, CA 94510
    • Gire a la Plaza de Oro y manténgase a la derecha pasando las puertas hasta que nos vea
    • Hora: 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM
    • 91 Riverview Terrance Complex (a partir del 30 de marzo)
    • Busque la furgoneta Benicia USD
    • Hora: 11:30 AM-12: 30 PM

Si se ha inscrito previamente para estas comidas de estudiantes, no es necesario que responda a este correo electrónico. Si no se ha inscrito para estas comidas estudiantiles, responda a este correo electrónico: tcourtney@beniciaunified.org e infórmenos si su hijo (a) recogerá una comida estudiantil gratuita y qué lugar de recogida se utilizará. Incluya los nombres de los estudiantes para que podamos anticipar cuántas comidas de estudiantes preparar.

Sinceramente,
Tania P. Courtney
Director del Departamento de Nutrición y Servicios Alimenticios
Distrito escolar unificado de Benicia
1101 Military West, Benicia, CA 94510
Teléfono: (707) 748-2758
Correo electrónico: tcourtney@beniciaunified.org

 

CDE News Release Communication 4-30-20

Dear Benicia Community. 

 
I am sharing the following statement from Tony Thurmond, the State Superintendent of Schools (if you haven’t already seen it). In his statement, Thurmond responds to the Governer’s comments a few days ago about when schools may open again.    
 
On our end, please know that NO decisions for next year have been made yet. We are just starting the planning process, considering various scenarios, etc., but really cannot and will not make concrete decisions and plans until we get much more clarity from the Governor’s Office, the State Superintendent of Schools, and the Health Department.
 
We will keep everyone thoroughly updated as we go along.
 
Please be well and I hope all is going well with each and everyone one of you.  We miss you! 

State Superintendent Tony Thurmond Issues Statement in Response to Governor’s Remarks for Potential Earlier School Year

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond issued the following statement today in response to Governor Gavin Newsom’s remarks that public schools might start the next school year earlier: 

“We all heard for the first time today the idea of schools reopening as early as July or August. If possible, this could help us address equity issues facing our most vulnerable students while providing an opportunity to start recovering the learning loss we know students have experienced between the time we closed campuses and shifted to distance learning.

“We also recognize the importance of schools reopening to help parents and caregivers in their much-needed return to work.

“If this is going to work, there are some major questions we will have to answer. First and foremost: Can this be done in a way that protects the health and safety of our students, teachers, and school staff?

“We also must consider the fiscal implications. Social distancing in schools may require smaller class sizes, but schools are going to need additional resources to make it happen—including the possibility of hiring more teachers. Additionally, teachers and school staff will need personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies so that our schools are sanitized. We expect that some form of social distancing will be with us through the summer, so if we start school early, we need resources to make it a reality.

“Clearly, for now, we still have more questions than answers. But now is the time for us to problem-solve and plan for the future. My team will be in regular communication with our partners in the Governor’s Office, the State Board of Education, the Legislature, the Department of Finance, public health leaders, employee group leadership, and superintendents and educational leaders from all across the state and nation.

“Together, we will create a path forward that works for all students.”

Distance Learning Plan Update 4-23-20

Dear Benicia Community. 

I hope this communication finds you well and managing the stay at home order as best as possible.  There are many unknowns as we move forward, in particular, what school will look like for all of us next year. We will keep everyone updated as we hear more from the Governor, the State Superintendent of schools, and the Health Department and how their guidance will affect our planning.    

In the meantime, in our ongoing effort to provide clarity regarding our efforts with Distance Learning, I have attached the BUSD Distance Learning Plan, knowing it is not perfect, but does reflect our intentions, the good work to date and the Memorandum of Understanding with the teacher’s union.  I am very proud of where we are, knowing we were quick in our response to distance learning and that we continue to reflect, learn, and refine our processes as we go along.  Teachers and all staff care deeply for their students, are striving to support them in the new Distance Learning model, and are looking forward to seeing them again in the hopefully not too distant future.    

Thank you so much for your patience and support!  

Sincerely,
Dr. Charles Young
Superintendent

IMPORTANT COVID-19 Update 4-2-20

Dear BUSD Community, 

In alignment with the recent guidance from Governor Newsom, State Superintendent of Instruction Tony Thurman, and supported by the Solano County Health Department, the Benicia Unified School District will continue with the distance learning model we started on March 18, 2020, for the duration of this school year. Learning will continue but unfortunately, students and staff will not be returning to campuses during this school year.  

We are living in unprecedented and anxious times. With that being said, we want to do everything we can as a school district to protect our students and staff as we fully participate in the effort, of which we are now enlisted, to help flatten the curve of COVID-19.  We are deeply appreciative, inspired, and strengthened by the impressive efforts of all staff members in our amazing school district. I want to thank our parent community for their continued support, generosity of spirit and understanding, knowing they are making sacrifices in their daily lives as they balance their many roles. 

I also want to acknowledge our brilliant and talented student body.  As your superintendent, I’m so sorry to let you know we are closing schools for the remainder of the year. I know you miss your friends, teachers and staff members.  We miss you too! Teachers are doing their very best to stay in close contact with you and assure your learning and development continues. We care for you deeply.  

As the remainder of the year progresses, we will undoubtedly need to work through challenges as they present themselves.  We are enthusiastic about our progress to date and confident our amazing teaching and support staff will continue to engage our students to support their ongoing learning and development.

We recognize that with school closure through the end of the school year many of our most special traditions and memorable events are affected.  Student athletics and performing arts will not be held for the remainder of the school year. We also understand this greatly affects our Seniors, the Class of 2020, who have been looking forward to events such as prom and graduation. Please know we are working on alternate plans for the senior activities as well as the transition events for our fifth and eighth graders and will get those details to you in the coming weeks. 

We are providing Additional Resources for Home that you can choose to use with your students. Please know the activities on the additional resources document will not be assigned, collected, or graded by teachers, but are optional opportunities. We will continue to update this document as we gather more resources.

Our Food Service Department will continue to provide meals to students, at the same locations and designated times found here until the end of the school year, including Spring Break. 

In closing, I sincerely hope all is well in your households.  Although this whole experience seems so surreal and trying, I have an overwhelming feeling we are going to get through this united as a society. For me, I know I will have, and already do, an even deeper sense of gratitude and appreciation for all of the many blessings in my life, including getting to serve and work with all of you.  

Please be well and know we will continue to update you regularly.  

Sincerely,
Dr. Charles Young
Superintendent

BUSD will begin the 2020-21 School Year (Aug. 17) with Full Virtual Learning. In an effort to adhere to the current Solano County Public Health orders of social distancing we will continue to conduct business electronically as much as possible.Click Here for The Latest Info
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