08 January 2021

Burbank Newsletter - January 8th 2021

Dear Burbank Families,

Happy New Year! 

A new year bringing new hope.

Last year will undoubtedly be remembered (perhaps not fondly) as one for the record books.  I hope you all have optimism for the year to come.

Though I am ever the optimist, I try to see the world as it is and this week reminded us that the challenges we faced in 2020 have not magically disappeared.

With Hope,

Mr. Okie


Difficult Conversations

The events of January the 6th, were shocking and disturbing. Teachers and students who came to school the next day brought with them a wide variety of opinions and emotions that left unaddressed would adversely affect learning.  Our staff knew it was our responsibility to engage students in developmentally appropriate conversations to ensure that the confusing and often scary images. We addressed our students for two essential reasons:

  • To allay fears that may inhibit learning
  • To correct misconceptions and misinformation so it is not spread, along with fear and anxiety that are caused by rumors

I spoke with our educators early on Thursday morning and offered them the following guidance:

  • Assure our students that they are safe at Burbank and in Belmont
  • Maintain that violence and intimidation are not acceptable methods to share our feelings or solve our problems
  • Provide important background information so students can understand these events in the context of our electoral democracy

Having spoken with teachers, students, and parents about the conversations that occurred, it is my belief that they had their intended effect.  If your child(ren) is still concerned, anxious, or curious you may always reach out to Burbank for support. Your child(ren)'s teacher, our school counselor and psychologist, and I are always available should you need us.  In addition the following resources, some of which have been shared in other messages, are valuable guides for parents who would like to lead these conversation.

Talking with Your Children About Traumatic Events

Children and Trauma

Talking to Children About Violence

Helping Children Cope with Frightening News


Staying Safe and Healthy

I would not have predicted that we would be fortunate enough to have successfully remained in our hybrid model throughout the fall and into the new year.  A great deal of our success has been our continued and strict adherence to our health and safety policies.  I am grateful to our children who have adapted so well to these new habits and routines, our parents who have supported our efforts at school and enacted and maintained difficult changes at home, and our teachers who have diligently but gently kept everyone disciplined when temptation is greatest. 

Our collective efforts have kept the impact of the pandemic minimal within our community, and we must remain vigilant and committed if we want to continue to enjoy in person schooling at Burbank.  The recent introduction of highly efficacious vaccines to our arsenal of defense is a welcome light in this dark winter, but our best weapons continue to be mask use, distancing, and handwashing.  Please help our students stay in school by continuing to do your part to safeguard your family and the community.

A special thanks goes out to our nurse, Heather Blake, who helped create our safety guidelines, and tirelessly supports students, families, and teachers in navigating our way safely through this crisis.  She would like to remind you of Important Health Highlights and need to know information


  • Check the Symptom Checker every day before school.
  • If you travel outside of Massachusetts:
    • Please complete this form.
    • Submit PCR COVID test results to me before your child returns to school.
    • Reach out to Heather Blake, Burbank Nurse (hblake@belmont.k12.ma.us).


  • Physical exams are due in the clinic for all Grade 4 students

Please do not hesitate to get in touch with me. I am happy to be a resource for answering your questions about navigating this challenging time.

Heather Blake