When the COVID-19 pandemic first struck, people and institutions all across the country and the world were forced to change the way they operated on an everyday basis. Similarly, Beverly Hills Unified School District (BHUSD), like other school districts throughout the country, had to create and carry out a new plan for at-home learning when district facilities were first shut down in March. As an editorial board, we believe it is our responsibility to hold our district accountable when necessary. However, we find it just as crucial to praise the board when such praise is earned.
All BHUSD members—including teachers, the District Office and Board of Education— demonstrated strong and effective leadership in a time when it can save lives. Successfully carrying out at-home learning is no small feat; yet, they were able to organize a district-wide program in an incredibly efficient manner.
This is not to say that every single thing the district has done so far in response to COVID has been perfect, but administration continues to show growth and understanding throughout this incredibly uncertain time. Frankly, it is unfair to hold the district to a standard of perfection when they are informed, on such short notice, that schools must physically shut down and education as we know it must change dramatically, especially considering the large-scale uncertainty regarding the virus when it first reached the United States. However, what they carried out as a group—from when they first started devising a COVID-19 response plan to the extensive Home Learning plan implemented this year—has been nothing short of innovative and effective.
They have created a consistent and steady schedule that is easy for students and teachers to follow. Teachers have been improvising and taking advantage of new online resources to ensure that their students are still receiving a high class education, despite the unforeseen circumstances we are still getting used to. The BHHS library, for example, has taken this time as an opportunity to expand its virtual presence and provide more resources for students online. As students we sometimes tend to look for the negatives—the things we can most easily complain about, like how we don’t like certain online tools or how we spend too much time on Zoom. These complaints are valid, and should be discussed, but it’s important that we take the time to recognize and acknowledge the hard work that teachers, district administration, and all BHUSD members are doing for our benefit.
Spearheaded by Athletic Director Tim Ellis, the district has also created and implemented a plan for certain student athletes to return on campus for safe practices. This is giving our student athletes a wonderful opportunity to get back into their sports and work off the rust that may have developed during quarantine, while also safely interacting with their coaches and teammates.
But BHUSD’s pandemic response has gone past the basic logistical planning, and this understanding and supportive message they are sending to the BHUSD community is something that must be commended.
They have continued to provide support, both inside and outside of the classroom, for students during this difficult time. For example, NormanAid continues to offer resources and virtual counseling for students. They also continue to offer free meals to students and those in need on all weekdays from 10:30am-12:00pm at Horace Mann Elementary School.
They have also been very understanding of the obstacles our current circumstances may bring, students and teachers included. For example, interruptions may occur during Zoom meetings/classes, and they’ve made it clear that that’s okay. In fact, in a YouTube video uploaded to the BHUSD Community channel, the district wrote, “This is different. This is not unprofessional. This is what life looks like right now, for our students, for our teachers, for our parents and for our administration. Special interruptions happen and we understand! We will get through this!” Messages of an understanding and supportive community only strengthens our bond as members of BHUSD.
There continues to be a level of uncertainty with certain aspects of the pandemic, but the district has continued to lead effectively and simultaneously provide members of the community with support and high quality education. The Beverly Media Editorial Board commends the BHUSD administration and faculty on their collective response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and thanks them for their service to the students and members of our community.