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Administrators, Parents, Teachers, Students Clash in Berkeley Over School Reopening

BERKELEY (KPIX) -- With many teachers and their unions resisting the call to reopen schools, the issue has reached a political stalemate and a rally in Berkeley Saturday brought out the passion on both sides.

Parents, students and medical professionals gathered at a park next to Berkeley High Saturday morning to discuss the health affects of not being in school.

"We see increasing rates of depression, anxiety, social isolation, children falling further and further behind academically and socially," Dr. Dan Drozd, an infectious disease physician, told the assembled crowd.

Even the CDC is now saying that, with proper masking and social distancing, the risk of infection to teachers and students may be outweighed by the damage being done by keeping them home.

"There is no evidence that opening schools with these precautions increases community transmission and the rate of transmissions in schools are extremely low," said East Bay hospital physician Dr. Shelene Stine. "We have to think about the safety of our teachers and children from both perspectives."

But not everyone was willing to hear that.

"You don't love your teachers!...We've had enough of these people!" shouted Berkeley High calculus teacher Masha Albrecht who interrupted the rally, saying she doesn't feel safe returning to the classroom regardless what medical professionals are saying.

"I'm especially upset with the doctors who are saying, 'listen to the science' as if we cannot read science," she said. "I'm a mathematician, I can read statistical studies. Nobody has shared anything with me that convinces me it's safe to go back into that school with a whole bunch of kids."

That brought a response from Berkeley High Senior Noa Teiblum.

"They're infectious disease experts!" she said. "I mean, who are you to think that you have more say in deciding what's safe or not than infectious disease experts at the CDC? It's frustrating!"

Both sides are frustrated and neither seems to trust what the other is saying. It's opening a divide between parents and teachers that may live on after the virus is contained.

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