Category Archives: Benicia Unified School District

Covid-19 – Vallejo schools ease up on grading, Benicia stays tough but will discuss

[Editor: The Benicia School District’s May 7 meeting will take up the hot topic of grading policies under distance learning.  In this updated version of the Times-Herald story, Benicia Superintendent Charles Young goes on record defending Benicia’s grading policy.  For context, read below about other Bay Area school districts, and check out the California Dept of Education’s Coronavirus Guidance on Grades and Graduation.  – R.S.]

Coronavirus: Vallejo School District changes grading policies, but Benicia stays the same

Vallejo Times Herald, by Thomas Gase, May 1, 2020

With the coronavirus outbreak changing education with distance learning, many school districts have made changes to their grading policies for the spring semester.

The Vallejo Unified School District announced last month that third-quarter grades will be used for final grades, unless those grades go up during the final semester. This is the same for Fairfield and West Contra Costa County, while the Dixon Board of Supervisors announced they adopted a pass/no pass policy.

Other counties going to a pass/no pass or credit/no credit policy include Napa, Santa Clara, Sonoma and San Mateo. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors adopted a credit/no credit policy (after initially adopting a policy that would have given all students “A’s.”

However, while many school districts have switched things up, Benicia Unified has yet to make any changes to its grading policy,  although there is an item on May 7 board meeting that mentions a report from Dr. Leslie Beatson on the next steps of distance learning.  One of the components of that presentation and discussion will be an update on the grading being implemented in Benicia Unified School District, according to an email from BUSD President Diane Ferrucci.

“Thursday’s board meeting will include an update from our Education Services Department on the distance learning plan to date, a standing agenda item as long as we are engaged in this model, and will also include an update on student feedback, engagement and grading,” Benicia Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Charles Young told the Times-Herald. “We have evidence illustrating that our model is working on behalf of the vast majority of our students and is helping to keep levels of student engagement high as we all navigate this new model together.”

Leann Taagepera, a parent of a senior student at Benicia High, was not happy with BUSD not making changes to its grading policy and sent out an email to Ferrucci requesting that the topic of the grading policy be an action item” on the board’s agenda, instead of a discussion only item.

“School boards across the state and nation are voting on the grading policies revised per the CDE’s suggestions during this school closure time period,” Taagepera said. “The school board and the public should be afforded meaningful input into the grading plan, not merely be told by staff what staff is proceeding with.”

Taagepera also requested Benicia High provide a survey to high school students and parents to solicit their opinions about what should compose the district’s grading policy during distance learning and that the survey include the state’s guidance on grading during the distance learning time period.

In an email to the Benicia School Board, Taagepera wrote, “All of the (school districts) are either adopting a credit/no credit or pass/no pass system or a system that states that the spring semester grades will not fall below what they were in the first quarter when schools closed, or a combination of both. Again, BUSD is the one district I have located that is not modifying its grading policy during this terrible time of upheaval in the lives of our students, parents, and teachers.”

Young said there are reasons they haven’t made a change to a pass/no pass policy as of yet.

“We stayed with the use of grades at the secondary level as it is a feedback system of which students, staff and parents are imminently familiar,” Young said. “We are aware of at least one district that decided to use credit/no credit is now getting petitions from parents to return to regular grades. This work is complicated and we know there is no perfect system. We are focused on the needs of our students and we will continue to reflect on our process as we go forward, not only with distance learning, but with all we do on behalf of our students.”

Young went on to praise Benicia teachers and faculty with their work in distance learning.

“Our teachers and all staff have been just amazing,” Young said. “We were among the first to implement the distance learning model (many school districts had upwards of three weeks of no instruction as they transitioned to distance learning), a formidable task for sure, but we were providing instruction on day one. We quickly distributed Chromebooks to students in need (the high school was already one-to-one); we identified essential standards by grade level and course offering. Our partnership with the Benicia Teachers Union has never been stronger and their level of professionalism continues to not only be admirable but is a model for other districts.”

Benicia Schools publish Distance Learning Plan

Distance Learning Plan – Update 4-23-20

Apr 23, 2020 | Latest News, nCoV

Dear Benicia Community,

I hope this communication finds you well and managing the stay at home order as best as possible.  There are many unknowns as we move forward, in particular, what school will look like for all of us next year. We will keep everyone updated as we hear more from the Governor, the State Superintendent of schools, and the Health Department and how their guidance will affect our planning.

In the meantime, in our ongoing effort to provide clarity regarding our efforts with Distance Learning, I have attached the BUSD Distance Learning Plan, knowing it is not perfect, but does reflect our intentions, the good work to date and the Memorandum of Understanding with the teacher’s union.  I am very proud of where we are, knowing we were quick in our response to distance learning and that we continue to reflect, learn, and refine our processes as we go along.  Teachers and all staff care deeply for their students, are striving to support them in the new Distance Learning model, and are looking forward to seeing them again in the hopefully not too distant future.

Thank you so much for your patience and support!

Dr. Charles Young

Click here to read the BUSD District Distant Learning Plan >

Benicia schools – out for the duration

Benicia Unified School District – Distance learning, but no school, no sports, no performing arts, no prom, no graduation ceremonies…


Dear BUSD Community,

In alignment with the recent guidance from Governor Newsom, State Superintendent of Instruction Tony Thurman, and supported by the Solano County Health Department, the Benicia Unified School District will continue with the distance learning model we started on March 18, 2020, for the duration of this school year. Learning will continue but unfortunately, students and staff will not be returning to campuses during this school year.

We are living in unprecedented and anxious times. With that being said, we want to do everything we can as a school district to protect our students and staff as we fully participate in the effort, of which we are now enlisted, to help flatten the curve of COVID-19.  We are deeply appreciative, inspired, and strengthened by the impressive efforts of all staff members in our amazing school district. I want to thank our parent community for their continued support, generosity of spirit and understanding, knowing they are making sacrifices in their daily lives as they balance their many roles.

I also want to acknowledge our brilliant and talented student body.  As your superintendent, I’m so sorry to let you know we are closing schools for the remainder of the year. I know you miss your friends, teachers and staff members.  We miss you too! Teachers are doing their very best to stay in close contact with you and assure your learning and development continues. We care for you deeply.

As the remainder of the year progresses, we will undoubtedly need to work through challenges as they present themselves.  We are enthusiastic about our progress to date and confident our amazing teaching and support staff will continue to engage our students to support their ongoing learning and development.

We recognize that with school closure through the end of the school year many of our most special traditions and memorable events are affected.  Student athletics and performing arts will not be held for the remainder of the school year. We also understand this greatly affects our Seniors, the Class of 2020, who have been looking forward to events such as prom and graduation. Please know we are working on alternate plans for the senior activities as well as the transition events for our fifth and eighth graders and will get those details to you in the coming weeks.

We are providing Additional Resources for Home that you can choose to use with your students. Please know the activities on the additional resources document will not be assigned, collected, or graded by teachers, but are optional opportunities. We will continue to update this document as we gather more resources.

Our Food Service Department will continue to provide meals to students, at the same locations and designated times found here until the end of the school year, including Spring Break.

In closing, I sincerely hope all is well in your households.  Although this whole experience seems so surreal and trying, I have an overwhelming feeling we are going to get through this united as a society. For me, I know I will have, and already do, an even deeper sense of gratitude and appreciation for all of the many blessings in my life, including getting to serve and work with all of you.

Please be well and know we will continue to update you regularly.

Dr. Charles Young

Benicia Schools – everyone urged to “unplug and take a true break during April 6 – 10: Spring Break”

COVID-19 Update 3-27-20 – Distance Learning
March 27, 2020

Dear Benicia Families,

We are winding up our eighth day of Distance Learning and want to express our gratitude to all our families, students and staff for your flexibility, adaptability and patience.  Our staff has worked very hard to be forerunners in getting Distance Learning up and going for our students. We will continue to refine our instruction during our extended school closure through May 1, 2020.

As we continue to learn about and work in this new learning dimension, we are trying to use reasonableness as a barometer for what we are asking our students and families and staff to do. Throughout the closure, our goal is to reinforce and practice key State Content Standards and concepts taught to this point in our school year.  We have asked staff that any new content taught should be viewed through the lens of being critical and essential for students in their grade level, or subject area class. We are being mindful of the amount of content and time we are asking kids and families to work as many of you are juggling working from home, parenting, and now supporting your child’s learning.

To support our families and staff as we enter an extended Distance Learning timeframe we are:

  • Dedicating Wednesday, April 1 as a Professional Planning Day for teachers to determine the key concepts/standards and pacing that students must learn through the end of this year. Your children can continue to work on schoolwork, but teachers will not be available that day.
  • Strongly encouraging all families and staff to unplug and take a true break during April 6 – 10: Spring Break.
  • Dedicating Monday, April 13 as a Non-student day to provide an additional day of Professional Planning for teachers.
  • Resuming Distance Learning for students Tuesday, April 14.
  • Dedicating Each Friday after break (April 17, 24 & May 1) as Professional Planning Days for staff  to support planning and collaboration. Your children can continue to work on schoolwork, but teachers will not be available these days.

We greatly appreciate your partnership knowing this is a challenging time for our society.  I sincerely hope all is well in each and everyone of your households.

Dr. Charles Young


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