The Burton School District will be much more prepared to provide virtual learning when the 2020-2021 school year begins.

That was the message from Burton superintendent Sergio Mendoza in a letter he wrote to parents in the district. Burton's school year begins on August 11.

In the letter, Mendoza stated the situation is different now from when the district had to switch to distance learning in the spring on short notice.

“BSD staff has been working diligently over the past couple of months to prepare for every outcome and phase of reopening, including virtual learning,” Mendoza wrote. “Because of this work, we will be able to offer our students a robust and rigorous virtual learning environment when we start school on August 11.

“Our virtual learning model will be vastly different from the emergency distance learning we quickly pivoted to in March when schools initially closed physically.”

Mendoza stated in conjunction with Burton Online School, the district's online program that's available to students throughout the year, all students not enrolled in Burton Online School will be provided virtual learning by their school. More information about Burton Online School is available at www.burtonschools.org/online.

“Our virtual learning model will include regular attendance, emphasis on teacher-student engagement, daily interaction with peers, progress monitoring, grading, small group support, daily live interaction with teachers, challenging assignments, adopted lessons for English Language Learners and Special Education teachers, parent support and ongoing professional development opportunities for teachers and support staff,” Mendoza wrote.

“We know it will be critical to equip teachers with tools and resources necessary to maximize their skills when teaching in a virtual learning model.”

At its July 20 meeting the Burton School Board approved the district's Plan-B Hybrid Model for in-person learning when the district will be able to do so. In that model groups of students will attend school on different days and will attend school two days a week and will continue virtual instruction three days a week.

Mendoza wrote in his letter the district will be able to switch to this model when Tulare County has been removed from the state's watch list for 14 straight days.

He stated the model will be implemented: “As soon as public health conditions allow and adequate resources are allocated by both the state and federal governments for the safe return to school.”

Mendoza also stated the district will provide more details on its plans in the coming weeks.

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