• COVID 19 Operations Written Report

    Local Educational Agencey (LEA) Name:  Bellflower Unified School District

    Contact Name and Title:  Tracy McSparren, Superintendent

    Email and Phone:  tmcsparren@busd.k12.ca.us

    Date of Adoption:  June 11, 2020

    Provide an overview explaining the changes to program offerings that the LEA has made in response to school closures to address the COVID-19 emergency and the major impacts of the closures on students and families.

    The requirement to close schools due to COVID-19 greatly impacted teachers, staff, students, and families of the Bellflower Unified School District (BUSD).

    At the onset, BUSD’s first priority was the safety of all employees and students; and, thereafter, was determining how best to provide food to students who would have otherwise received breakfast and lunch at school. BUSD was not an approved summer meal provider and met this need by partnering with our community YMCA (see information later in the report). Once these basic needs were addressed, and with the understanding that the closure may be prolonged, administration, teachers, and staff set forth to determine how best to support teachers with transitioning to online teaching and to support students with accessing instruction.

    To ensure that our community was up to date with information, the BUSD and school websites were modified to include an alert to visitors of the site that provided a link to the most updated information. The District’s automated telephone system, App, and social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter were also used by some sites to broaden their connection to the community.

    Sites reached out to their students with messages in an effort to help students continue to feel a sense of belonging to their school and a connection to their teacher(s) and classmates. Counselors supported students with social emotional needs by providing targeted support to students and establishing Google Classrooms to continue counseling sessions or by reaching out directly to families.

    The continuity of learning was our next priority, and initially unfolded with plans to distribute core instructional materials, basic supplies, and devices as needed. Over 4600 devices were distributed district-wide. Students and families with needs and possible barriers were identified and a process for reaching out to families that had made no contact was established. Connectivity remains an issue for many families.

    Teachers developed and delivered instruction in a variety of ways to support the needs of all students including providing paper packets, posting assignments on Google Classroom, conducting Google meet class sessions, and other technologies such as email, text and Class Dojo.

    Special education teachers provided activities and resources for students to progress towards IEP goals, and related service providers worked collaboratively with teachers to ensure consistent communication related to students needs and to offer consultation with teachers and parents. BUSD developed teacher resources identifying critical skills for instruction, and assessment and feedback tools, to determine their effectiveness in identifying learning gaps caused by the closure of schools.

    Despite efforts, many students have chosen not to engage in online learning opportunities. Overall 87% of students showed up for distance learning, these numbers are lower for our targeted student groups. 83% of English learners, 85% of foster youth, and 85% of low-income students. Not all students who showed up, completed assignments or participated in Google Meet classroom sessions.

    Provide a description of how the LEA is meeting the needs of its English learners, foster youth and low-income students.

    As teachers began to provide online instruction and assign work to students using Google Classroom, a concerted effort was made to identify students non-responsive to multiple efforts made by teachers, counselors, community service works, and administrators to reconnect them to the school. Overall, 97%of all of students showed up to school at least one time during school closure, 97% of English learners, 90% of foster youth, and 98% of low-income students showed. Showing up does not mean all of these students participated daily, or turned in all assignments.

    Non-responsive families were referred to the Child Welfare and Attendance (CWA) office where the Coordinator continued to make contact with families and provide resources as needed. The CWA office also coordinated with site leaders to encourage foster youth and homeless students to actively participate and engage in lessons.

    The CWA Coordinator assigned each of our foster youth students to a cohort of students working directly with our Community Service Workers (CSW). The CSW in charge of each cohort made direct calls to identify student needs and ensure students had access to technology and internet. In collaboration with the Caring Connections Network, during the months of March – May, BUSD CSWs made 164 referrals for families for a variety of services including food and child care. To ensure that we continued to provide the best service to our foster youth students, the BUSD Foster Youth Liaison participated in County, Area, and Local meetings to stay informed of additional resources and services that became available. In an anticipation of students struggling emotionally, BUSD psychologists were also available to conduct risk assessments.

    To meet the needs of English learners, specific resources were provided to teachers to utilize when planning instruction including choice boards for direct English language development (ELD) instruction, sentence frames, and accountability talk phrases to help students build their English communication skills during instruction in all subject areas.

    Teachers were also provided with support to effectively use technology that not only enabled students to collaborate online and assist students with tools to attempt to address virtual barriers to learning that would be traditionally addressed in the classroom setting.

    To meet the need of all students but specifically English learners, low-income, and students struggling academically, a grade-span “Essential Standard” document to support teachers in not only targeting the most important English Language Arts skills students need for college and careers across a grade-span, but also outlining the critical skills by grade-level for college and career success was provided to teachers. This document included points to consider to maximize instruction online, rigor considerations for online instruction, and links to various “best practices” that would assist teachers in addressing skills virtually.

    Math learning guides were also updated and provided to teachers pinpointing essential standards for grades TK – 8, instructional strategies and progressions, and evidence collection tools to provide feedback to students. Teachers have also been provided with instructional routines and tutorials for implementing high-yield strategies and lesson activities in a virtual environment.

    In an attempt to mitigate the gaps in math learning being developed during this time, all elementary and middle school students had the opportunity to use the ST Math program created by the Mind Research Institute. Training was provided to administrators and teachers to promote proper implementation of the program Parent resources were developed for teachers to use to communicate the purpose and benefit of students using the program. The decision to implement this online program was based on input received prior to closure from stakeholders, the opportunity to use the program at no cost, and because this program is designed to meet the needs of our English learners and students with special needs as it is a visual-spatial program that emphasizes problem solving instead of relying on language to teach math. Within four weeks, over 1650 new student users logged onto the program with a District total of 3300 users.

    Provide a description of the steps taken by the LEA to continue delivering high-quality distance learning opportunities.

    To support teachers as they developed plans for providing students with enrichment and distance learning opportunities, a teacher resource Google site was built to house vetted resources and strategies all in one place. Links to core curriculum materials were included for teachers to use for planning and to provide families with access to textbooks online. Resources for all subjects were included on the resource site including resources to support continued learning for Dual Immersion students, students enrolled in Advanced Placement and Career Technical Education classes. BUSD PE and Music programs also created a website with resources and activities to support students’ continued participation in physical education and musical performance. Updates to the resource site were emailed weekly and referenced at staff meetings. To deliver instruction, schools created Google Classrooms or used Seesaw to assign material and provide feedback, provided paper packet materials and distributed textbooks as needed, and used Google Meet to provide in-person online instruction for students.

    Understanding that parents were also impacted by school closure, schools developed and shared schedules with parents to help identify times for classroom interactions and times when teachers could be reached by students and parents to answer questions.

    To ensure continuity of instruction, the Instructional Technology (IT) department worked remotely to make sure that software used for distance learning worked and that all checked out technology equipment was working properly so that teachers could continue to deliver high-quality distance learning opportunities. The IT department also implemented off network filtering on all student devices checked out so that students’ devices were filtered while doing schoolwork just as they would be if they were at a school site and on the network.

    The teacher resource site included links to technology training for teachers. Additionally, a technology survey was administered to teachers to determine the greatest areas of professional development needed for teachers to ensure that they were able to virtually deliver high-quality instruction to all students. Based on survey results, professional development was provided in ways that were preferred by teachers including step-by-step instructions, videos, and coaching support. Principals sought individualized support for staff members

    Special Education Teachers used individual student data prior to district closure to understand students’ current level and starting point for distance learning. This has allowed our Special Education teachers to tailor enrichment activities to each student’s needs as well as provide data for future goal reporting and continued assessment of student needs. Small group targeted Google Meet class sessions were scheduled to provide support to students with identified needs and instruction was developed using the teacher resources vetted and posted to the teacher resource site.

    Feedback about student progress was included in the elementary report card comment section along with instructions on how to access resources that will help students continue to learn through summer months. Both the elementary and secondary grading policy was temporarily modified to ensure students experience “no harm” with regard to grades due to COVID-19 school closures.

    To continue to refine and improve distance learning opportunities if necessary in the future, students were surveyed to gather their opinions about participating in distance learning. Over 45% of students reported that the most difficult part of distance learning was completing assignments, and 20% of students found it difficult to find a quiet place to work, In contrast, 31% of students appreciated the ability to complete assignments at their own pace, while 34% of students enjoyed sleeping in. Upon return to the classroom learning environment, students reported that they would like to continue to have the ability to complete work at their own pace (63%) and follow a flexible schedule (51%).

    Provide a description of the steps that have been taken by the LEA to provide school meals while maintaining social distancing practices.

    When schools first closed, BUSD was informed by the California Department of Education (CDE) that it was not authorized to provide meals during extended school breaks under the Summer Food Service Programs (SFSP) or Seamless Summer Option (SSO) since participation in these programs were low in previous years, possibly due to the several summer feeding sites nearby. To ensure families had access to meals, a list of locations for picking up grab and go meals within in the community was posted on the BUSD website along with information on how to locate emergency meal distribution sites by downloading the CA Meals for kids app.

    Shortly thereafter, BUSD partnered with the YMCA to provide meals prepared by the BUSD Nutrition Center to families. This was the quickest, safest way BUSD could provide meals to families and limit the possible exposure of our staff to the community. We knew that YMCA had a long-standing CDE approval to serve meals to our students and therefore would be able to provide meals faster and with a stronger outreach to the community. We worked with Executive Director of Los Cerritos YMCA to have his site distribute the meals from our Bellflower High School parking lot and called in staff to complete the requested counts of meals requested by YMCA, making sure to provide breakfast and supper items in one easy to grab bag. All of the items were pre-packaged and met the Meal Patterns required by the SFSP/SSO programs. Distribution staff and volunteers followed social distancing protocols and wore protective equipment. To ensure families were aware of this service, information was shared through the District automated telephone system, the District App, and Facebook. During the first days of meal distribution, 150 grab and go meals were available daily. The program has grown and is currently serving 1300 meals daily.

    Provide a description of the steps that have been taken by the LEA to arrange for supervision of students during ordinary school hours.

    During outreach calls, Community Service Workers (CSW) determined whether families needed access to childcare. Once identified or upon request, the Student Support Coordinator, Caring Connections, and CSWs referred families to the YMCA. Parents were also provided with information about the Children’s Home Society of California resource and referral program that helps families access emergency child care providers that might meet their needs.