Berkeley school district individuals test positive for COVID-19

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Daniela Cervantes/File
Three individuals in Berkeley Unified School District tested positive for COVID-19 after they participated in a Berkeley High School boys basketball program. The district is now reviewing its athletics and how it follows COVID-19 safety protocols.

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With the return to in-person instruction under a hybrid model, Berkeley Unified School District, or BUSD, confirmed multiple positive COVID-19 cases in the past week.

After participating in a Berkeley High School boys basketball program last week, three individuals tested positive for the virus, according to a BUSD statement. On Friday, the district was notified of the first positive case and proceeded to follow protocols including contact tracing, requiring all those who participated in practices to quarantine for 10 days and notifying the city’s Public Health Division and school community.

Following the confirmation of the first case, BUSD became aware of the second and third cases Sunday and Monday, and the same protocols were implemented, the statement added. In addition to the three Berkeley High cases, two positive cases were reported at Sylvia Mendez Elementary School and at Rosa Parks Elementary School.

“Case reporting protocols were followed in both instances, and each of these positive cases has resulted in quarantines,” the statement reads. “These five cases serve as an important reminder that the COVID-19 pandemic is not over.”

Additionally, the district confirmed that masks were not worn by the majority of students who participated in “rigorous” outdoor and indoor basketball drills last week. The statement also noted that during the preceding week, Berkeley High basketball players engaged in non-Berkeley-High-related workouts at an indoor gym without wearing masks.

Having gone into effect Monday evening, the district paused all athletic tryouts at Berkeley High for at least 48 hours, according to the statement. Currently, the district is reviewing athletic practices and its adherence to COVID-19 safety protocols.

“What happened during the basketball tryouts is not in keeping with the guidance from our Athletic Directors, who follow the guidance from both the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and California Interscholastic Federation (CIF),” the statement reads.

The statement added that these cases are the first to be reported in relation to a Berkeley High athletic team.

While BUSD is working under the direction of the city’s Public Health Division, the district encourages the BUSD community to consider engaging in the district’s free student COVID-19 testing. According to the statement, testing is available at all BUSD campuses from prekindergarten to high school.

Thao Nguyen is the city news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @tnguyen_dc.