Address: Burbank Elementary School
266 School Street,
Belmont, MA 02478
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Dear Burbank Families,
As we round out the first week in August, we possess a clarity that we have lacked for several months. The Return to Learning Plan presented by Superintendent Phelan to the School Committee last night provides us a possible path forward in these uncertain and unsettling times. The plan will be voted on at the upcoming meeting on August 11th, and I encourage you to join the meeting if you are able to do so.
This summer has been a challenging one for the entire Burbank community, and while we grapple with a global pandemic and the unknowns we all face, I hope you have been able to find time to enjoy time with your families in the beautiful weather the season provides. I have encouraged the Burbank staff to do the same and take some time to relax and recharge. While they have to a certain extent, they have also been joining me in the difficult work of preparing for the upcoming school year. Their dedication to the students of Burbank and the highest quality education possible continues to amaze me. I would like to update you on some of the fruits of our labors.
At this point in the summer, you would typically have received your class list assignments. I am sure that all of our students are clamoring to find out who their teachers will be. Due to the many questions that still need answers about the fall, it is not the right time to share these assignments. Many factors may require changes to class lists and I do not want any child to be confused or upset that a change was made to their assignment because we sent them too early. Class placements will be confirmed and sent to you Mid, but probably more likely, Late August.
Despite our remaining questions about what school will look like in the fall, we strongly suspected that students would be spending some of their learning time at home during the school year. As a result, we planned for and ordered “Home Learning Kits” for students at every grade level to support learning at home. An identical kit will be prepared for use at school when possible, where the typical sharing of supplies will not likely be permissible.
Another challenge presented by remote learning has been overcome by the dedicated efforts of our IT department. They have worked throughout the summer to purchase, prepare and distribute a personal device to each Belmont student. I am tremendously grateful to Belmont for providing our students with these devices and our IT Team for distributing them to our families.
As we have worked to prepare for the return to learning, we have been focused first and foremost on the health and safety of our entire community. A very close second priority, however, has always been supporting the mental health and well being of our students, staff, and families. It is top of mind in all our conversations and plans. Therefore, I am glad to be able to share that we will be continuing, and in fact enhancing, our collaboration with Mental Health Support team at McLean’s Hospital. This team consulted with our counselors, social workers, and psychologists last year to support teachers and students, and as this year the district will expand that collaboration to include professional development and support for administrators, mental health professionals and all teachers. Recognizing the difficult circumstances that all students, families, and also staff are facing, led us to seek expert help to support our educators and students.
As summer continues and eventually comes to a close, we will be hard at work preparing for a successful return to learning. I can guarantee that it will be vastly different than the start of any school year in memory, but that Burbank will meet the challenges ahead as a community that continues to be committed to respect, well-being, and a love of learning.