School Reopening/COVID-19 Response

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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

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

Gethsemane Moss, Ed.D.
Gethsemane 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 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

Charles Young, Ed.D.

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. (

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.   

Charles F. Young, Ed.D.

Revised Food Service Extended Date through June 5th


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: 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.

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





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: 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.

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:


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!  

Dr. Charles Young

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.  

Dr. Charles Young

COVID-19 Update 3-27-20

March 27, 2020

Dear Benicia Families,

We are winding up our eighth day of Distance Learning and want to express our gratitude to all our families, students and staff for your flexibility, adaptability and patience.  Our staff has worked very hard to be forerunners in getting Distance Learning up and going for our students. We will continue to refine our instruction during our extended school closure through May 1, 2020.

As we continue to learn about and work in this new learning dimension, we are trying to use reasonableness as a barometer for what we are asking our students and families and staff to do. Throughout the closure, our goal is to reinforce and practice key State Content Standards and concepts taught to this point in our school year.  We have asked staff that any new content taught should be viewed through the lens of being critical and essential for students in their grade level, or subject area class. We are being mindful of the amount of content and time we are asking kids and families to work as many of you are juggling working from home, parenting, and now supporting your child’s learning. 

To support our families and staff as we enter an extended Distance Learning timeframe we are:

  • Dedicating Wednesday, April 1 as a Professional Planning Day for teachers to determine the key concepts/standards and pacing that students must learn through the end of this year. Your children can continue to work on schoolwork, but teachers will not be available that day. 
  • Strongly encouraging all families and staff to unplug and take a true break during April 6 – 10: Spring Break. 
  • Dedicating Monday, April 13 as a Non-student day to provide an additional day of Professional Planning for teachers.  
  • Resuming Distance Learning for students Tuesday, April 14.
  • Dedicating Each Friday after break (April 17, 24 & May 1) as Professional Planning Days for staff  to support planning and collaboration. Your children can continue to work on schoolwork, but teachers will not be available these days. 

We greatly appreciate your partnership knowing this is a challenging time for our society.  I sincerely hope all is well in each and everyone of your households.  

Dr. Charles Young

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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