First published in the Aug. 20 print issue of the Burbank Leader.
Burbank students made their way back to campuses Monday with an energy that had not been seen in years.
The Burbank Unified School District managed to keep its doors open in 2021-22 despite the fluidity of the COVID-19 pandemic, and that experience gave teachers, administrators and parents a sense of optimism this year.
“I suppose it’s the new normal, and I’m OK with it,” said Lashaunda Morante, a BUSD parent. “I think it’s time to kind of find a new normal and let them get back to class and figure it out.”
The energy was evident at Dolores Huerta Middle School with hundreds of students and parents mingling and catching up at the quad.
“You can’t go wrong with smiling faces and kids having brand-new clothes,” said Kenneth Knoop, who is in his first year as Dolores Huerta principal. “They’re excited to be here, and it really is such a different energy.”
Superintendent Matt Hill began his weeklong campus tour at Dolores Huerta and welcomed students as they walked onto campus.
“Kids are coming back to campus being kids and not worried about what to do and what rules to follow,” he said. “They know the drill now.”
Having a better understanding of COVID-19 and adjusting to a life with the virus not only gave confidence in the students but in teachers as well. Knoop believes that teachers will finally be able to focus on instruction rather than masking and other health protocols.
“I told them to let me worry about masking and COVID,” he said. “Let’s get out the old P’s and stop talking about policies, procedures and paperwork. Those are the bad P’s, but we have all these new P’s coming forward. I want to talk about perseverance, passion, pride, and more importantly, let’s work on people and relationships because that’s what we’ve missed the past few years.”
The first week was not without its hiccups. The district experienced internet issues on Tuesday that affected students and teachers. The technology services team worked late into the evening and early Wednesday morning to resolve the problem.