News Blog

BUSD: Housing, Student Attendance

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Important Information from Superintendent Stephens

A message was sent out by Dr. Stephens yesterday via School messenger regarding attendance.  In case you missed it, here it is again –

Student Attendance

California made significant changes to the laws about student attendance in the 2020-2021 school year, and although the new state law does not describe every challenge that families are facing, school attendance continues to be compulsory for students.

Compulsory attendance means that all students are expected to participate in school, including the teacher’s live daily online instruction and the completion of assignments made by the teacher. Both of these elements are expected parts of attending school and, to comply with state law, BUSD will soon implement a new attendance taking system that tracks both daily attendance in live instruction and each student’s ongoing completion of school work.

We recognize that attendance in live online instruction can be interrupted by a variety of factors, including the stability of internet service. We ask that families continue to share with their teachers the reason for an absence from an online session. At the school level, we are required to maintain our attendance communications with families, and this still involves automated attendance calls to the home when a student is absent. We will do our best to limit these calls to absences that we have no information about.

Supplemental support is scheduled by Special Education, English Language Development Teachers, and intervention teachers, and these support classes are also mandatory. 

At the elementary level, Choice Time consists of live enrichment classes like Music, Physical Education, Library, Science, and Gardening & Cooking. Student participation in Choice Time enrichment classes is highly encouraged, but may be viewed as optional. No make-up instruction can be offered for families who opt out of these enrichment classes on an ongoing basis, and periodic participation will affect your child’s learning in these subjects.

Students grades should be based on impartial, consistent observation by the teacher of the quality of the student’s work and his/her mastery of course content and objectives. A student’s understanding and work can be affected by attendance, but attendance itself is not included as part of grading.

Some families may choose to opt out of Zoom instruction entirely, and while BUSD discourages this because of its impact on student learning, it is permissible under state law that a child is considered to be attending school if she or he is only completing the teacher’s assignments. Families who elect to miss all or some Zoom sessions should understand that teachers cannot offer individual tutoring, make-up work, additional assignments, or other support beyond what the teacher provides to all students. Families who choose to opt out of Zoom entirely should contact their school principal. 

In keeping with state law about attendance, families that choose not to participate in either live or assigned school work will be dropped from the district, and will be required to re-enroll to begin attending a BUSD school again. A seat at your current school cannot be saved.

 

Last Chance for SSC Nominations

You can have a direct impact on your child’s education.  Join the dynamic group of parents, teachers & staff on the School Site Council, working to meet the learning needs of ALL students, improve school climate, and forge a strong Home-School Connection.  The SSC helps write our annual School Site Plan and determines funding priorities for Oxford Elementary.

Please nominate yourself here to be on the Oxford SSC ballot. It’s a two-year term and three parent/guardian positions are open on the council this year.  We meet once a month in the late afternoon.  The deadline for nominations is Friday, Sept. 11.  Contact Beth Rhine if you have questions. The first official meeting with the 2020-2021 Committee will be on October 14. 

 

 

Coastal Art & Poetry Contest

California students in kindergarten through 12th grade are invited to submit artwork or poetry with a California coastal or marine theme to the Coastal Art & Poetry Contest, presented by the California Coastal Commission. 

Entries can be submitted online until midnight January 31st. For rules, contest flyer, entry form (and helpful links for teachers and students), please visit www.coastal.ca.gov/art-poetryThe instructions, flyer, and entry form are also available in Spanish. (If you need the flyer emailed instead, please let me know.) 

Up to ten winners will be selected to win $100 gift certificates to an art supply store (for artists) or book store (for poets). Each winner’s sponsoring teacher will receive a $50 gift certificate for educational supplies, courtesy of Acorn Naturalists. Students may have their work featured on Commission web pages and materials, and winners and honorable mentions will be exhibited throughout the state, as conditions allow. 

 
 Bekkah Scharf (she/her/hers)

Public Education Program, California Coastal Commission 


 

 
Berkeley Housing Information
Jones Berkeley is a new apartment complex at 1080 Jones Street that is now accepting applications for below market rate apartments. There are 16 available units including studios, 1 bedrooms, 2 bedrooms, and 3 bedrooms. They will accept Section 8 and other valid rental assistance program vouchers. 
 
The property includes:
Fitness Center, Indoor/Outdoor Lounge, Social Lounge, Package Lockers, Indoor Bicyle Parking, On-site Composting, Green Roof Spaces
 
 You can find information about the property / application process here.  Application due date:  10/13/2020 at 5:00pm.
 
 

BUSD Technology Review

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At our PTA meeting we heard from BUSD Teacher Librarian Eric Silverberg, who shared with us an overview of the different technologies the District is using in the new Distanced Learning plan.

Click here to see the presentation deck

Learn about the ED HUB

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The Ed Hub is BUSD’s centralized distribution site for all things teaching & learning during school facilities closure due to COVID-19. The drive-through site allows for BUSD students and their families to pull in, pick up essential learning supplies, and head back home while staying safely inside their car.

 

 

Click here to see more information about the ED HUB

“How to” videos for Google Classroom

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In partnership with BUSD’s Digitech, Berkeley Schools Volunteers spent much of the summer researching, designing, and producing a series of Google Classroom “how to” videos for families (grades 3rd and up).

These videos are now linked to the District’s Distance Learning resources page, bit.ly/busd2020. They are located under the red buttons in both English and Spanish. (Arabic coming soon!)

Or, if you just want to highlight the new Google Classroom how-to videos, you can share these direct links:

In partnership with BUSD’s Digitech, Berkeley Schools Volunteers spent much of the summer researching, designing, and producing a series of Google Classroom “how to” videos for families (grades 3rd and up).

These videos are now linked to the District’s Distance Learning resources page, bit.ly/busd2020. They are located under the red buttons in both English and Spanish. (Arabic coming soon!)

Or, if you just want to highlight the new Google Classroom how-to videos, you can share these direct links:

Welcome Back Monday!

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Hello, Oxford Families.
 
We are busily trying to get everything ready for Monday.  Emails and texts have been flying – it’s been a busy day.  I might need to send out another email if there are more updates, but I’ll try to limit the emails.  I’ll try!
 
First, teachers are working on reaching out to families to share information, links, and a sign-up for Family Conferences.  If you haven’t heard from your teacher, you will hear from them today or tomorrow.  Some are learning a whole new level of technology and are trying to get things in place.
 
For some tech support for families, check out this link:  bit.ly/busd2020. There are also links for students to use next week during independent work time.
Returning students will likely remember their login email and password.  Please use the BUSD email to log onto all BUSD programs, etc.  Classroom teachers will share the login email and password with the new students and kindergarten students.  I also have the list, so if you’re in a jam, feel free to email me.  
 
Today, we received a directive from the City of Berkeley Health Department saying that we are not able to hold in-person meetings inside or outside of schools.  I believe some teachers had been setting up outside family conferences next week but those will now need to be moved to Zoom Meetings.  It’s unfortunate but with Covid numbers increasing, we want to follow the guidelines and keep everyone healthy.  
 
Kindergarten Families, this means that Balanced Beginnings plans have to be cancelled.  I met with the Kinder team today and students have been assigned to teachers.  Ms. Lewis and Ms. Ahmed will be reaching out to families today or tomorrow with information about next week.  We are so bummed about this and were looking forward to seeing families, socially distanced, of course.  But again, we want to keep everyone healthy.
 
I am going to send out the information in this email via robo-call this evening.  I am using the Illuminate database that has all families in it.  If you don’t get an email or a phone call…or both, let me know.  This means that the information in our system is not accurate and I’d like to get it as accurate as possible.  
 
For future communications, our plan is to send out the school newsletter via this list on Tuesdays.  I will do a robo-call on Fridays with timely information.  As the school year gets underway, communications might slow down as we get into a groove.
 
Speaking of getting into a groove, the first couple of days might be a little bumpy while teachers get their virtual classrooms set up and as students figure out the routines.  I am confident that we will get into a groove for Distance Learning and the bumps will smooth out. (It will probably happen right before we go to Hybrid/part school-part home learning!). I really appreciate your patience and support in this whole process.  You are amazing. 
 
One piece of good news is that the move is still on schedule!  Phew.
 
Big hugs to you all!
 
Beth Rhine, Oxford Principal

BUSD: Optimism, Even in Uncertain Times

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Dear BUSD Community, 

On Monday, we begin another school year together, and we do so in an environment of great uncertainty. We wish we could tell you more about when and how schools will reopen in person, but there are just too many unknowns right now. 

Still, we view Monday’s start to the school year with optimism, and are excited to see so much energy from our teachers as they prepare to welcome their students. This year’s work brings a well-organized schedule for distance learning, meaningful revisions to the curriculum, more professional development for our staff, and increased attention to the importance of small group support and family communication. 

As we launch, let’s all note that we have accomplished so much since March, thanks to our caring staff and community. We have served tens of thousands of meals without interruption, distributed thousands of laptops to families, and shared hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations with Berkeley residents who need it most. Over the summer, we have made significant changes to the Distance Learning experience incorporating thoughtful feedback from parents/guardians, students, and staff.  We will continue to support our families with essential needs – please see our updated Nutrition Services information here.

As I write today, BUSD continues to receive evolving public health guidance about the risks associated with on-campus activity, and this guidance is developing to be more restrictive. In fact, as of last night, we have been told we can only conduct our Elementary School Family Meetings remotely. This is a huge disappointment to the principals, teaching staff and families who were really looking forward to the possibility of brief, socially distanced meetings on campus. Our principals and our risk manager are now developing revised protocols for picking up books and supplies, checking out library books, and more.  Your school principal will continue to communicate with you about what this will look like at each school site. 

Together, we are now watching as schools around the country are attempting a variety of strategies to reopen, and we are witnessing how difficult this is. When our local health conditions improve, BUSD is committed to continued partnership with our local health officers, the use of accurate data and informed scientific perspective, and a measured, cautious approach to reopening. 

The Board of Education and all our staff recognize that many Berkeley families are in a near-impossible situation. We recognize that Distance Learning is not the same as in-person school, and that it does not address the needs of caregivers who must work during school hours. We are still trying to find solutions that will address the very real childcare needs, and we are continuing to work on plans for an eventual return to at least some in-person learning, so that when local conditions and health orders permit, we will be able to. 

As so many Berkeley families have shared with me since March, we are in this together. While we are deeply disappointed that health orders do not permit us to be on-campus, I hope we adults can all still convey to our children that this return to school is an opportunity to reconnect with teachers and friends, and even at a distance, we have much to be grateful for and excited about. My very best to you and your children for an engaging and safe start to the school year.

Brent Stephens

Dear BUSD Community, 

On Monday, we begin another school year together, and we do so in an environment of great uncertainty. We wish we could tell you more about when and how schools will reopen in person, but there are just too many unknowns right now. 

Still, we view Monday’s start to the school year with optimism, and are excited to see so much energy from our teachers as they prepare to welcome their students. This year’s work brings a well-organized schedule for distance learning, meaningful revisions to the curriculum, more professional development for our staff, and increased attention to the importance of small group support and family communication. 

As we launch, let’s all note that we have accomplished so much since March, thanks to our caring staff and community. We have served tens of thousands of meals without interruption, distributed thousands of laptops to families, and shared hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations with Berkeley residents who need it most. Over the summer, we have made significant changes to the Distance Learning experience incorporating thoughtful feedback from parents/guardians, students, and staff.  We will continue to support our families with essential needs – please see our updated Nutrition Services information here.

As I write today, BUSD continues to receive evolving public health guidance about the risks associated with on-campus activity, and this guidance is developing to be more restrictive. In fact, as of last night, we have been told we can only conduct our Elementary School Family Meetings remotely. This is a huge disappointment to the principals, teaching staff and families who were really looking forward to the possibility of brief, socially distanced meetings on campus. Our principals and our risk manager are now developing revised protocols for picking up books and supplies, checking out library books, and more.  Your school principal will continue to communicate with you about what this will look like at each school site. 

Together, we are now watching as schools around the country are attempting a variety of strategies to reopen, and we are witnessing how difficult this is. When our local health conditions improve, BUSD is committed to continued partnership with our local health officers, the use of accurate data and informed scientific perspective, and a measured, cautious approach to reopening. 

The Board of Education and all our staff recognize that many Berkeley families are in a near-impossible situation. We recognize that Distance Learning is not the same as in-person school, and that it does not address the needs of caregivers who must work during school hours. We are still trying to find solutions that will address the very real childcare needs, and we are continuing to work on plans for an eventual return to at least some in-person learning, so that when local conditions and health orders permit, we will be able to. 

As so many Berkeley families have shared with me since March, we are in this together. While we are deeply disappointed that health orders do not permit us to be on-campus, I hope we adults can all still convey to our children that this return to school is an opportunity to reconnect with teachers and friends, and even at a distance, we have much to be grateful for and excited about. My very best to you and your children for an engaging and safe start to the school year.

Brent Stephens

Superintendent

BUSD: School Start Times, Directories, Town Halls & More

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Dear BUSD Families, Students, and Staff,

We are now one week away from the start of the school year, and I write with important information for all families.

First, on behalf of all our district staff, welcome back. The first day of school, Monday, August 17th, is just a week away.  While the school year begins in Distance Learning, I remain optimistic about our ability as a community to weather these difficult times together, keeping health and equity at the center of all our decisions.

This summer has been challenging because of the ongoing troubling news about the spread of COVID-19, and it has been inspiring, as mass protests continue to direct the attention of our leaders and institutions – BUSD included – to the ongoing need for racial justice. We all step into this new school year with commitments to health and equity for our students, family, and staff – and this will require that we work together. This is work we must embrace in all of its complexity.

Details about BUSD’s new Distance Learning Plan, Back to School, Fall 2020, can be found on our website.

The same plan is available in Spanish: Regreso a Classes Otoño 2020.

In addition to this plan, I hope you’ll read about several important updates:

Most Class Lists Will be Available beginning August 10

Although class lists are usually distributed the day before school begins, this year elementary class lists will be available for families and students on August 10, as will schedules for students at Berkeley High School. Middle school principals are working to finalize their schedules this week. Elementary schools will email lists to families on the 10th, and middle and high school class schedules will be available by checking your family’s Illuminate account. Please reach out to your school principal if you experience an issue. Please note that BUSD is unable to distribute parent contact information to the school community due to privacy laws.

PTA Family Directories

Most school PTA’s are planning to expedite the creation of a parent directory so that families can reach out to one another as the year begins. Specific information about your school’s parent directory will come directly from the PTA.

School Start Times

Beginning on August 17th, all BUSD elementary schools will begin at 9:00 am. During the first two weeks of school, elementary teachers will begin each day with a class meeting and instruction, and will schedule individual family meetings during the rest of the day. Families will receive work and assessments from their child’s teacher, as well as “how to” videos related to Seesaw, Google Classroom, Zoom, and other applications that will be central to the distance learning experience.

Also beginning on August 17th, all BUSD middle schools and Berkeley High School will begin at 9:15 am, and this will be the start time during this period of distance learning. Berkeley Technology Academy begins the school day at 10:00.

When we surveyed parents/guardians and high school students, we found that more families (53%) and high school students (55%) preferred the earlier start time, fewer families (40%) and high school students (26%) preferred the later start time (with the remainder having no preference or choosing an intermediate time). Meanwhile, half of Berkeley High teachers with school-age children have a strong preference for a later start time. 40% of teachers with school-age children prefer the earlier start time.  We regret there was no perfect solution that worked for everyone.

Virtual Town Halls

Last week, we were appreciative of the hundreds of families and students who joined us for Town Hall events about the new BUSD Distance Learning Plan. This week, we look forward to three additional Town Hall events.  The Zoom Links are below and also posted at berkeleyschools.net

Monday, August 10, 6:30 – 8:00, Town Hall for Families of Children with Disabilities

Tuesday, August 11, 6:30 – 8:00, Affinity-Based Town Hall for African American Families

Wednesday, August 12, 6:00 – 7:00: Town Hall for Berkeley High School Students

Links to recordings of last week’s Town Halls are available on the BUSD YouTube channel, which is also where you can watch live streaming of events. 

A recent addition to the BUSD YouTube channel is an August 5th webinar on Schools and Public Health during COVID, with presenters from UCSF and Berkeley Public Health, who responded to a Q&A with the BUSD management team and labor leadership.

Updated COVID-19 Resource Page

BUSD continues to update our COVID-19 Information and Resources web page on a regular basis. We encourage you to visit for additional information about meals, Chromebooks, mental health resources, and housing and financial support. 

New COVID-19 Testing Pilot Program at Berkeley Adult School, 1701 San Pablo Avenue

BUSD is pleased to host a COVID-19 pilot testing program offered by the City of Berkeley to provide additional COVID-19 testing to the Berkeley community. Curative, Inc’s self-administered oral fluid test is widely used for drive-up testing in the City of Los Angeles. This pilot, which offers the same test in a walk-up kiosk, is part of the City’s efforts to expand access to testing for everyone in our community. Information about this testing pilot, including links for appointments, is available at this City of Berkeley link.

Materials Distribution This Week – Please Be Cautious

BUSD schools will begin distributing materials to families this coming week, August 10 – 14. Most schools have organized these distributions so that families can drive by the school. In the event that any parent, volunteer, or staff member is on-campus this week, please remember that we all share important responsibilities to keep each other safe. This includes wearing a face covering, keeping a six foot distance from other people, and frequently washing or sanitizing your hands.

As we welcome all our families back to a new school year, we continue to be committed to our Berkeley community, and to make our very best effort to adapt to the changing, challenging circumstances of this pandemic.

Warmly,

Brent Stephens

Superintendent

BUSD: Back to School Fall 2020 Distance Learning Plan

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Dear BUSD Community, 

<este mensaje estará disponible en español en nuestro sitio web al final del dia>

With the Board of Education, I’m pleased to share the district’s Distance Learning Plan for the Fall of 2020. In this Back To School Fall 2020 plan, you’ll find detailed information about distance learning schedules at each grade level, including scheduled live teaching time with your child’s teachers, and for elementary students, ways that your child’s schedules will include enrichment, Special Education support, and English Language Development. 

Many people contributed to Berkeley’s Fall Distance Learning Plan, including parents, students, teachers, and principals. I am grateful for the many hours of work, input, and feedback – the finished product draws together many creative ideas, and tries to balance rigor, consistency, small group engagement, and students’ developmental needs.

The plan is a significant step forward from our first efforts to support remote learning, and we have learned a lot together. We’re glad to introduce an elementary school “master schedule” that will tie together students’ daily learning, with Seesaw as a common learning tool in all TK-2 classrooms, and Google Classroom in all classes from Grade 3 to 12. We also thought very carefully about Special Education services, and the school-wide schedules we’re introducing will help teachers coordinate specialized instruction. We will continue key developments from last year, like Grab and Go meal distribution, Chromebooks and hotspot distribution to families and educators, and the Ed Hub. 

For families with younger children, please know that we appreciate that time online is a developmental challenge. The schedule we describe here creates more evenness for instruction, but we understand that every child is different. As you look at the TK-Grade 1 schedule, please note that many Zoom sessions are optional.  Also please note that all Elementary grades will begin the year with two weeks of Family Meetings, so that you can speak with your teacher about your child’s specific needs. We will design an attendance system that permits flexibility, and will work further with families and teachers to adapt to families’ individual circumstances.

As part of finalizing fall planning, we are surveying our middle and high school families about preferred school start times. Middle school could begin at 9:15 am or at 10:00 am, and Berkeley High School could begin at 9:15 am or 11:00 a.m. We are considering these proposals in order to alleviate some stresses for families with children in different grades, and to heed research about school start times for adolescents. Your views on this question are valuable, and we are weighing this decision for a possible Board of Education discussion on August 5th.  A link to the survey for middle and high school families will be sent later today.

We are also holding a series of Town Halls to explain and discuss our Distance Learning plan, including scheduling options, beginning with a Town Hall on Monday, August 3rd at 6:30 pm. The schedule for the Town Halls is posted here

We continue to work on several important questions, including how to create childcare options for students on our campuses, and how to reopen our schools for a hybrid program when this can be done safely. We will continue to report our progress to you at regular intervals.

On behalf of the Board of Education and all our district staff, I express our sincere gratitude to our families, and our commitment to serve your children in this new year. We will emerge stronger together.

Sincerely,

Brent Stephens, Superintendent

BUSD: Recommendation to Begin Year in Distance Learning

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Dear Berkeley Community,

<este mensaje estará disponible en nuestro sitio web en español más tarde esta noche>

I’m writing to let you know that at the Wednesday, July 15 School Board meeting I will be making the recommendation that we begin our school year in Distance Learning. I do so knowing that what we all really want is to have our students back in school, together.  As soon as it is possible to have students and staff safely return to school campuses, we will make that happen.

As you may know, school districts across the State are making a similar decision to begin in Distance Learning, but as your Superintendent, this is a heartbreaking recommendation to make.  I want so much more for our students than the slow, measured re-opening that I am describing below. I know that this will come as difficult news for many families and students, and particularly for parents and guardians of younger children, as distance learning places them in a very challenging predicament. We are making progress toward a phased reopening which could prioritize younger students and others who have specific needs for support, but as we take stock of our full situation – and take seriously the alarming rise in COVID-19 in our region – I know that this delay is the responsible thing to do. I still see that a return to on-campus learning is possible; I just don’t see that doing so on August 17th is feasible.

We have been working hard all summer, preparing our facilities and programs to support best practices such as social distancing, hand-washing, and smaller cohorts of students. At the same time, we have been monitoring local conditions with concern. Among our earliest criteria for opening campuses on August 17 is a decrease in hospitalizations over 14 days, whereas currently we are seeing a 14 day rise. Efficient testing and contact tracing are additional criteria, and while testing is becoming more widely available, delays in appointments and results pose a significant concern.  

We know it is possible that health officers may choose to permit schools to open even when there is community spread of coronavirus, but currently, the City of Berkeley has not amended its Shelter-in-Place order to allow schools to open, and at this point we need to make a decision for the fall, and direct our energies toward a strengthened Distance Learning program that will best serve our students in August. 

Over the summer, my central office colleagues and I have been working intensively, and involving our principals and union partners and the Board as well, in trying to resolve a list of complicated challenges that would make it possible to reopen our schools. This has been an earnest and unrelenting effort. We are deeply motivated by the knowledge that on-campus learning is the preference of the majority of our school families. We were also keenly aware that we also need to dedicate time and focus to the important task of improving distance learning, as an option for many of our families, and as a strong default program, should local conditions or a school outbreak compel us to return to Distance Learning. As we worked toward an on-campus plan, we also knew that sometime in the month before school began, we would have to assess local conditions and decide whether we could implement all that was needed to reopen school campuses with confidence. 

The challenges to reopening schools have been considerable. We are already planning to spend millions of dollars to reopen schools, but there is still a long list of work that will require even more time and financial resources. We’re adapting our facilities with plexiglass, hand-washing stations, and air filtration units; all of these supplies are in high demand and installation will be taking place in phases over the next weeks and months. Every square foot of our schools requires new procedures for social distancing and student cohorts. We have to adjust our lunch programs, and limit ridership on bus transportation. We’re designing new programs for child care, and setting up procedures for screening and quarantining. We are consulting with university research institutions as potential partners for ramping up testing. We are analyzing possible staffing shortages because some teachers and staff are at higher risk from COVID-19 and will need to work remotely. We must develop staff training on dozens of new procedures, and make changes to the work calendar and find the budget to provide the training. Pivotal to all these efforts, we must build the confidence of our staff and families that the district has done everything possible to reduce the risks from the coronavirus while providing on-campus learning opportunities. 

So, with just four weeks until school opens and after a great deal of work with district staff and union leadership on all these issues, and in consultation with School Board members, I have decided that I cannot recommend to the Board that we open our schools in August – even if the current Shelter-in-Place Order is amended in the next few weeks to permit schools to reopen. We need to return to campus when we are confident that local conditions have improved and our facilities, staffing, and procedures are truly ready.

At the Board of Education meeting on July 15, I plan to make the following recommendations for the formal approval of the Board:

  • BUSD will begin the year with an improved Distance Learning plan that will look very different from the program provided last spring. There will be structured daily and weekly schedules for students, required attendance, daily live instruction on Zoom, engaging remote learning content, assignments that are graded and reviewed by teachers, and consistent communication with families. 
  • Elementary and middle schools will stay in distance learning for the first eight weeks of instruction, until October 9th. By September 15, we should be able to reassess and announce our capacity and timeline for the next steps to transition to on-campus teaching – if it is possible to do so in compliance with health guidance. 
  • High school students will also stay in distance learning, most likely until the December break, supplemented by afterschool activities as described below. We will assess the feasibility of transitioning to campus learning sooner, at the quarter break, but recognize that the logistical issues for high school may compel us to wait until the semester break.
  • We will begin a phased, prioritized reopening of key programs as soon as we can implement required risk reduction practices  – as close to a August 17th start date as possible. These prioritized re-openings will focus on providing in-person learning and care for our youngest learners, and our most vulnerable learners, and provide social experiences and recreation for as many small cohorts of students as possible. These prioritized programs include:
    • Early Childhood Education (preschool) programs at Franklin, Hopkins, and King CDC
    • Services for students with IEPs (for services that can’t be provided online)
    • Elementary after-school programs
    • Middle and high school after-school activities, including some sports practices, physical conditioning, clubs, science labs, advisories, and more
    • Elementary “Ed Camps” (a potential new school-day program that we are developing to support essential workers)
    • Student support and intervention programs

We continue to be committed to providing accessible meal service, Chromebooks, and hotspots to families during this period. 

I look forward to sharing initial details of the plans for the fall Distance Learning program and these supplemental priority programs at the July 15 Board Meeting, with further details, as they are developed and agreed upon, at the July 29 Board Meeting, which is when the Board will approve the distance learning models for the fall. We will post updates on our website at www.berkeleyschools.net, and principals will also share updates with school communities as schedules are finalized. We also plan to hold Town Halls in late July and early August to provide additional information, engagement and support for a successful return to school. 

I continue to urge families to complete the Instructional Program Choice form that was sent out last week. This is for our general planning purposes. The selection is not binding, but helps us align our plans for staffing programs with family preferences in order to bring students and staff back on campus. When we are able to anticipate reopening school campuses more fully, we commit to re-surveying families and providing further program details before confirming program choices for students. 

With my continued hopes for the safety and well-being of our families and staff, and gratitude for the thoughtful engagement of our community as we confront this pandemic together, 

 

Best –

Brent Stephens

Superintendent

Berkeley Unified School District


Julio 13, 2020

Estimada Comunidad en Berkeley:

Les escribo para informarles que el miércoles, 15 de julio, en la reunión del School Board estaré haciendo la recomendación de que comencemos nuestro año escolar en Distance Learning. Hago esto sabiendo que lo que verdaderamente todos deseamos es el tener a nuestros estudiantes de regreso en la escuela, juntos.  Tan pronto como sea posible el que los estudiantes y personal docente regresen a los planteles escolares, lograremos que eso suceda.

Como ustedes probablemente sepan, los distritos escolares de todo el estado están tomando una decisión similar para comenzar Distance Learning, pero como su Superintendente, esta es para mi una recomendación desgarradora.  Yo deseo mucho más para nuestros estudiantes en lugar de la reapertura lenta y con medida que describo a continuación. Sé que esta será una noticia difícil para muchas familias y estudiantes, y particularmente para los padres y tutores legales de los niños más pequeños, ya que el aprendizaje a distancia los coloca en una difícil situación muy desafiante. Estamos avanzando hacia una reapertura por etapas la cual podría dar prioridad a los estudiantes más jóvenes y a otras personas que tienen necesidades específicas de apoyo, pero a medida que hacemos un balance de nuestra situación completa – y tomamos seriamente el alarmante aumento del COVID-19 en nuestra región – Yo sé que este retraso es lo que se debe de hacer de forma responsable. Aún veo que es posible el regresar a abrir nuevamente el aprendizaje en el plantel escolar; simplemente no veo que hacerlo el 17 de agosto sea algo factible.

Hemos estado trabajando arduamente todo el verano, preparando nuestras instalaciones y programas para respaldar los mejores métodos tales como social distancing (distanciamiento social), lavado de manos y “cohorts” (grupos) más pequeños de estudiantes. Al mismo tiempo, hemos estado monitoreando las condiciones locales con preocupación. Entre nuestros primeros criterios para abrir los planteles el 17 de agosto se encuentra una disminución en las hospitalizaciones durante un periodo de 14 días, mientras que actualmente estamos viendo un aumento en 14 días. Pruebas eficientes y el seguimiento de contactos son criterios adicionales, y aunque las pruebas están cada vez más disponibles, los retrasos en las citas y en los resultados plantean una preocupación importante.  

Sabemos que es posible que los funcionarios de salud decidan permitir que las escuelas abran incluso cuando existe una propagación comunitaria del coronavirus, pero actualmente, el Gobierno de la Ciudad de Berkeley no ha modificado su Orden de Shelter-in-Place para permitir que las escuelas abran, y en este momento necesitamos tomar una decisión para el otoño, y dirigir nuestras energías hacia un programa de Distance Learning fortalecido que sirva mejor a nuestros estudiantes en agosto. 

Durante el verano, mis colegas de la oficina central y yo hemos estado trabajando intensamente, e involucrando a nuestros directores y socios sindicales así como también al Board, para tratar de resolver una lista de desafíos complicados que harían posible que abriéramos nuevamente  nuestras escuelas. Este ha sido un esfuerzo serio e implacable. Estamos profundamente motivados por el conocimiento de que el aprendizaje en el plantel es la preferencia de la mayoría de nuestras familias escolares. También fuimos lo suficientemente conscientes de que necesitábamos dedicar tiempo y centrarnos en la importante tarea de mejorar el aprendizaje a distancia, como una opción para muchas de nuestras familias, como un fuerte programa predeterminado, en dado caso de que las condiciones locales o un brote escolar nos obligará a regresar al Distance Learning. A medida que trabajábamos en un plan para el plantel, también sabíamos que en algún momento del mes anterior al comienzo de las clases, tendríamos que evaluar las condiciones locales y decidir si podríamos implementar todo lo necesario para abrir nuevamente los planteles escolares con confianza. 

Los desafíos para abrir nuevamente las escuelas han sido considerables. Estamos planeando gastar millones de dólares para abrir nuevamente las escuelas, pero todavía hay una lista larga de trabajo que requerirá aún más tiempo y recursos financieros. Estamos adaptando nuestras instalaciones con plexiglass, estaciones para el lavado de manos y unidades de filtración de aire; todos estos suministros tienen una gran demanda y la instalación se llevará a cabo en fases durante las próximas semanas y meses. Cada pie cuadrado de nuestras escuelas requiere de nuevas medidas para el distanciamiento social y para los “cohorts” de estudiantes. Tenemos que ajustar nuestros programas de almuerzo, y limitar el transporte en autobús. Estamos diseñando nuevos programas para el cuidado infantil y estableciendo procedimientos para la detección y la cuarentena. Estamos consultando con instituciones universitarias de investigación como socios potenciales para aumentar las pruebas. Estamos analizando la posible escasez de personal debido a que algunos maestros y personal docente corren un mayor riesgo al COVID-19 y deberán trabajar de manera remota. Debemos desarrollar la capacitación del personal docente en docenas de nuevos procedimientos, hacer cambios en el calendario de trabajo y encontrar el presupuesto para proporcionar dicha capacitación. Como elemento fundamental para todos estos esfuerzos, debemos construir la confianza de nuestro personal y de las familias acerca de que el distrito ha hecho todo lo posible para reducir los riesgos del coronavirus al mismo tiempo que ofrece oportunidades de aprendizaje en el plantel. 

De manera que, con solo cuatro semanas antes de que comiencen las clases y después de un gran trabajo con el personal del distrito, el liderazgo sindical en todos estos asuntos y en consulta con los miembros del School Board, se ha decidido que no puedo recomendar al Board que se abran nuestras escuelas en agosto, incluso si la orden actual de Shelter-in-Place se modifica en las próximas semanas para permitir la reapertura de las escuelas. Necesitamos regresar al plantel cuando confiamos en que las condiciones locales han mejorado y nuestras instalaciones, personal y procedimientos estén realmente listos.

En la reunión del Board of Education el 15 de julio, planeo hacer las siguientes recomendaciones para la aprobación formal del Board:

  • BUSD comenzará el año con un plan de Distance Learning mejorado, el cual  será muy diferente al programa proporcionado durante la primavera próxima pasada. Habrá horarios estructurados diarios y semanales para los estudiantes, asistencia requerida, instrucción diaria en vivo a través de Zoom, contenido de aprendizaje remoto, asignaciones/trabajos que los maestros calificarán y revisarán, y comunicación consistente con las familias. 
  • Las escuelas primarias y secundarias permanecerán en distance learning durante las primeras ocho semanas de instrucción, hasta el 9 de octubre. Para el 15 de septiembre, debemos poder reevaluar y anunciar nuestra capacidad y plazo para los siguientes pasos hacia la transición a la enseñanza en el plantel, si es posible hacerlo de conformidad con la guía de salud. 
  • Los estudiantes de preparatoria también se mantendrán en distance learning, probablemente hasta el descanso de diciembre, complementado con actividades extracurriculares tal y como se describe a continuación. Evaluaremos la viabilidad de la transición al aprendizaje en el plantel antes, en el “quarter break”, pero reconocemos que los asuntos logísticos para la escuela preparatoria pueden obligarnos a esperar hasta el “semester break”.
  • Comenzaremos una reapertura gradual y con prioridad para los programas clave tan pronto como podamos implementar los métodos de reducción de riesgos requeridos, lo más cerca posible a la fecha de inicio del 17 de agosto. Estas reaperturas con prioridades se enfocarán en proporcionar aprendizaje y cuidado en persona para nuestros alumnos más jóvenes y para nuestros alumnos más vulnerables, y proporcionarán experiencias sociales y recreación para la mayor cantidad posible de pequeños “cohorts”. Estos programas con prioridades incluyen:
    • Programas Early Childhood Education (preschool) en Franklin, Hopkins, y King CDC
    • Servicios para los estudiantes con IEPs, para los servicios que no se pueden proporcionar en línea.
    • Programas para después de clases en la primaria.
    • Actividades después de clase para la secundaria y preparatoria, incluyendo algunas prácticas de deportes, acondicionamiento físico, clubes, laboratorios de ciencia, asesorías y más
    • “Ed Camps” en la primaria (un nuevo programa potencial “school -day” que estamos desarrollando para respaldar a los trabajadores esenciales)
    • Programas de respaldo para los estudiantes e intervención

Continuamos comprometidos a ofrecer servicios de alimentos accesibles, Chromebooks y puntos de acceso para las familias durante este período. 

Espero poder compartir detalles iniciales acerca de los planes para el programa de Distance Learning para el otoño y estos programas  suplementarios con prioridades en la reunión del Board del 15 de julio, con más detalles, a medida que se desarrollan y acuerdan, en nuestra reunión del Board del 29 de julio cuando aprobarán las programas de aprendizaje a distancia. Publicaremos las actualizaciones en nuestro sitio web en www.berkeleyschools.net, y los directores también compartirán actualizaciones con las comunidades escolares a medida que se finalicen los horarios. También estamos planeando Town Halls a finales de julio y principios de agosto para ofrecer información adicional, involucramiento y respaldo para un exitoso regreso a clases. 

Sigo exhortando a las familias para que completen el formulario Instructional Program Choice el cual fue enviado la semana próxima pasada. Esto es para nuestros propósitos de planificación general. La selección no es obligatoria, pero nos ayuda a alinear nuestros planes para asignar personal a los programas con las preferencias de la familia en orden de traer a los estudiantes y al personal docente nuevamente al plantel escolar. Cuando logremos anticipar la reapertura de los planteles escolares de una manera más completa, nos comprometemos a enviar nuevamente una encuesta  a las familias y a proporcionar más detalles del programa antes de confirmar las opciones de programas para los estudiantes. 

Con mis continuas esperanzas por la seguridad y el bienestar de nuestras familias y personal, y mi gratitud por el compromiso reflexivo de nuestra comunidad a medida que enfrentamos juntos esta pandemia. 

 

Lo Mejor para Ustedes –

 

Brent Stephens
Superintendente
Berkeley Unified School District