While reopening will not occur just yet, transitional kindergarten, or TK, through sixth-grade schools in Berkeley Unified School District, or BUSD, have been permitted to reopen amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Alameda County has met the state public health standard of less than 25 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people for five days, according to a tweet by District 1 Councilmember Rashi Kesarwani. This places the county in the purple tier of California’s COVID-19 recovery framework. BUSD spokesperson Trish McDermott added that TK-6 schools can reopen as this framework has been met for five consecutive days.
“The district continues to work to open our schools in a hybrid model while also working to expand the small cohort model we opened on November 9,” McDermott said in an email.
Schools serving grades seven through 12, however, will not be permitted to reopen in the current purple tier, McDermott added. According to the California reopening framework, all grades can open once the state reaches the red tier.
BUSD is currently working on negotiations with the teacher’s unions to solidify its reopening plan.
“The District is required, under California law, to negotiate with our labor partners with respect to reopening our schools,” McDermott said in the email. “We continue to make progress with our labor partners in these negotiations as we work for a safe reopening of our schools for in-person learning.”
Alameda County moved into Phase 1b of its vaccination program Monday, which includes vaccine availability for teachers, according to McDermott. BUSD will be working with Alameda County Public Health and the Berkeley Public Health Division to coordinate staff vaccinations.
As part of the reopening plan, BUSD has been working to implement regular testing for teachers and students.
“The district successfully implemented staff testing, now testing all on-site staff twice a month,” McDermott said in the email. “We are now working on developing a student testing program.”