California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday that all California schools will remain closed for the rest of the academic school year.
Berkeley Unified School District, or BUSD, had originally closed schools until May 1 to slow the spread of COVID-19, colloquially known as the coronavirus. While BUSD has not yet made a decision to follow Newsom’s recommendation, a formal proposal will be brought to the BUSD Board of Education on April 15, according to a statement from BUSD Superintendent Brent Stephens.
“I remain hopeful that our efforts to ‘flatten the curve’ may yield the possibility of bringing students back to the classroom before the end of the year,” Stephens said in the statement. “However, in the meantime, we should all heed the Governor’s words and plan as though we may not return to the use of our school buildings this year.”
Stephens added that BUSD is rethinking many end-of-the-year traditions, such as graduation ceremonies, in the case that school facilities may be closed. The district is also considering alternative summer learning options.
A recent survey administered by the district found that 40% of teachers are in a caregiving situation that will hinder their capacity to “provide distance learning experiences” to their students. The district’s Distance Learning Plan, which launches Monday, was formed in collaboration with the Berkeley Federation of Teachers, or BFT, aiming to accommodate teachers, according to BFT president Matt Meyer.
Meyer added that the state released further guidance on grading, allowing local districts to decide how they will address grading.
Berkeley High School senior Abigail Sanchez said she has not seen her friends in person in three weeks but is coping through cooking and nightly FaceTime chats with friends.
“In times of crisis, we usually gravitate towards our communities but it’s hard to do with this virus,” Sanchez said. “Students are terrified. … No one has ever had this type of learning. … But this is not something just our school is going through, our whole class of 2020 is going through it.”