BERKELEY (CBS SF) – The Berkeley Unified School District expects to reopen elementary schools to in-person learning later this month, offering a five-day a week schedule.
In a letter to students and parents, Superintendent Brent Stephens said elementary campuses would reopen for Transitional Kindergarten through 2nd Grade on March 29 and Grades 3-5 on April 12.
Families have the option to select in-person learning for their child or continue distance learning for the remainder of the school year. Parents must make their choice known to the district by Thursday, March 11 at noon.
"We recognize that you don't have all the details of the program to consider, but we do need you to tell us whether your child would return to school in person or not so that we can plan," said the superintendent. Changes in teacher assignments and the regrouping of students may need to take place, the district said.
Stephens said resumption of in-person learning is being made possible after "continuing positive dialogue" with the unions, along with a successful COVID-19 vaccination program for district staff.
According to the superintendent, all staff have the opportunity to be vaccinated and most have already received their first dose or are scheduled to get their shots soon.
Under the reopening plan, staggered arrival and dismissal times may be needed to minimize contact between stable groups. Classrooms would be set up for social distancing of 6 feet between students by default. If that is not possible, students would be separated by 4 feet from each other and 6 feet between students and teachers.
Other safety measures include face coverings, keeping kids in stable groups, hand washing, along with thorough cleaning, ventilation and air purification. As for COVID-19 testing, staff are tested every two weeks and a student testing plan is in development.
"We are overjoyed, relieved, and excited to see our kinder through fifth graders return to full time in April," said Open Schools Berkeley, a group of parents that have been advocating for reopening over the past several months.
The group said its work is not done, as a reopening plan has yet to be announced for middle and high school students.
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