BUSD: Shelter in Place Order, and Our Community

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Dear Berkeley Community,

Este mensaje estará disponible en español en nuestro sitio web al final del día

A Shelter in Place Order for Berkeley, Alameda County and six other Bay Area counties will begin tonight at midnight. You can read about this order on the City of Berkeley website and view the FAQ for additional information. The intent of this Order is to stop the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Sheltering in Place Means Staying Home 

The order states that Residents of Berkeley and surrounding communities must.shelter at their place of residence.  All persons may leave their residences only for “Essential Activities, Essential Governmental Functions, or to operate Essential Businesses.” The Order defines Essential Activities as “necessary for the health and safety for individuals and their families.”  The full list, which includes grocery stores, health care, and gas stations can be found in Section 10 of the Order.

Meal Distribution Will Continue

We are currently permitted to continue to provide breakfast and lunch to all school-age children age 18 and under. However, to allow for the most social distancing possible, as of Tuesday we are changing our meal distribution hours to serving from 11:00 to 1:00 every day to pick up both breakfast and lunch. Next week we plan to provide meal pickup on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, at which time breakfast and lunch the current and following day will be distributed. The meal distribution schedule is on this District website page. Please continue to visit that page for future updates.

What This Means for Our School District 

We have been doing our best to adapt to a quickly changing world. Last week we made the difficult, but necessary decision to cancel school events, and then a few days later, close our schools, hoping these steps would contribute to the fight against the spread of the coronavirus. Today after receiving the Shelter in Place Order, I asked our District Office staff to go home to take care of the needs of their own families and loved ones. 

Tomorrow, I plan to assess what the Order means for the already-limited operation of the district. This will likely mean that we will focus on the essential operations of the district: distributing food to families that need it, deploying computers to families who need them if we can, continuing our preparations related to online learning experiences for our students, continuing our communications with our families and staff, and ensuring that employees are paid.  I imagine that most other district business will be halted in the short-term. It is our chief concern that we work with the County and State to devise educational opportunities that are as meaningful as possible for all our students. 

I am grateful to members of our staff who are providing essential services for the health and safety of our community, and to everyone who has expressed the desire to do whatever they can to support our students and families.

We All Must Do Our Part  

This collective action, when adopted by millions of Bay Area residents, can have a positive effect on the spread of coronavirus. “Collective action is powerful,” said City of Berkeley Public Health Officer Dr. Lisa Hernandez during a press conference held today. “With no vaccine or medication for COVID-19, our unified actions have the power to slow the virus and maintain a healthy community.” We need to keep everyone at home as much as possible, and if you go out, keep a “social distance” which means at least 6 feet away from each other.

Social Distancing is Not Disconnecting

It’s important that each of us do our part to slow the spread of the coronavirus. This doesn’t mean we can’t stay connected to our community, neighbors, friends, and family. It will be important that we reach out to each other, especially the most vulnerable, through phone calls, texts and social media connections. Our Communications Team will continue to provide updates as best we can.

Please know that all our BUSD employees take our mission seriously, and that we will regroup from this unprecedented situation and do our utmost to contribute to the wellbeing of our communities.  

We thank the Berkeley community for your support, and wish every one of you the best in these very challenging times. “Berkeley Unified” is not just the name of our District, it could also be our motto, as we work together – at a safe distance – to meet the challenge of this time. 

Brent Stephens, Superintendent, and the Berkeley Unified team.