Berkeley school district prepares for online, hybrid fall semester models

Berkeley High School Building
Daniela Cervantes/File
Depending on local health guidelines, Berkeley Unified School District may offer the option of a hybrid fall semester, allowing students who choose this method of instruction to attend in-person classes two days a week and online classes three days a week.

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Berkeley Unified School District, or BUSD, Superintendent Brent Stephens sent a letter to students’ guardians Wednesday with updates about the upcoming school year, set to begin Aug. 17.

According to the letter, BUSD plans to transition to on-campus learning if the current shelter-in-place orders are modified to allow schools to open.

“The goal of BUSD in the 2020-2021 school year is to balance the complex variety of needs that students, families, and staff are currently confronting,” the letter reads.

Parents or guardians will receive an email from BUSD on Wednesday afternoon, which will ask them to indicate their preferences for their students’ learning style out of two choices.

A hybrid model will combine in-person and distance learning. Students using this model will be divided into groups and attend school two days a week while completing online instruction three days a week.

The other option is a distance learning model, which will support students who choose to use online instruction exclusively.

The letter states that selecting a hybrid model does not ensure that the option will be offered in August, as circumstances around COVID-19 are “constantly evolving.”

Students on campus will, among other actions, be required to self-screen for the disease at home and will be screened before entering school buildings.

Additionally, face coverings will be required for staff and students in kindergarten or above.

Physical distancing measures will include placing desks 4 to 6 feet apart and keeping students in small groups. Daily cleaning of school spaces will also be performed.

Staff and families will be notified of the final fall plans July 31, according to the announcement.

Sebastian Cahill is a deputy news editor. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @SebastianCahil1.