July 29 Board Meeting and Fall Updates
July 25, 2020
Dear BUSD Community,
We are looking forward to sharing details of the fall distance learning plan for the start of the 2020-2021 school year. On Wednesday, July 29th, we will share and discuss the plan at a special meeting of the Board of Education. Our school community is encouraged to attend and participate in this meeting and view this important presentation. Here’s how to attend the July 29th Board of Education meeting on Zoom.
On Thursday, July 30th, details of the distance learning plan will be shared with families by email and on our BUSD website. The distance learning plan will feature increased instructional time, predictable schedules for students and families, scheduling with Special Education and other teachers, and plans for small group support and ongoing family communication.
Over the last week, several new developments related to schools have emerged, and I’ll offer brief comments about these topics.
Family Learning Pods
We have been hearing that families in Bay Area school districts, including Berkeley, are beginning to reach out to friends and classmates to create “pods” – small groups of students and their families who agree to form a bubble group for the purpose of sharing child care responsibilities, and learning and socializing together. Like so many other aspects of the pandemic, these are uncharted waters for families and schools alike. However, I understand why families are trying to organize this way, given what will be another period of great strain on parents and children.
We are developing a variety of ways to support families through this period, beginning with improvements to distance learning and including efforts to create small-scale, on and off-campus child care options for younger students and will keep you informed of these efforts.
Elementary School Reopening Waiver
Some families will be aware that the Governor’s July 17th statement on school reopenings left open the possibility that districts could apply to their local health department for a waiver to reopen. We have confirmed with city and county public health departments that there is no current process in place for such a waiver. BUSD has already decided that for a variety of reasons – including community health, our local Shelter-in-Place Order, and our own readiness – we must remain in distance learning mode until at least October 9th.
Coming Town Halls about Distance Learning
I invite you and your family to participate in our next round of virtual Town Hall meetings to learn more about Distance Learning for the fall. All of these Town Halls will begin at 6:30, and links to these events will be emailed to you and will be available on our BUSD website.
- August 3, Town Hall in English
- August 6, Town Hall in Spanish
- August 10, Town Hall for Families of Children with Disabilities (with Mr. Shawn Mansager, BUSD Executive Director of Special Education)
- August 11, Affinity-Based Town Hall for African American families
I hope that your families have been able to enjoy some version of a summer break together, in this very strange year in which spring, summer and fall may feel like they blend together. I am looking forward to beginning school on August 17 with a fresh start, and even though we won’t be together on campus initially, I am confident that we are developing greater possibilities for our students and we will emerge stronger, together.
Governor’s Guidance on Reopening Schools
July 17, 2020
Dear BUSD Students, Families, and Staff,
At noon today, July 17, Governor Gavin Newsom shared new criteria for reopening California schools. Any school district located within counties on the COVID-19 monitoring list must start the fall in distance learning. Since Alameda County is on the state’s list and case rates are climbing, all schools in Alameda County are prohibited from reopening.
The Governor’s new criteria are consistent with the decision made by the Berkeley Unified Board of Education on July 15 to begin the year with distance learning. We will continue planning for a return to in-person learning as soon as public health conditions allow and adequate resources are allocated by both the state and federal governments for the safe return to school, but clearly the BUSD decision to open in distance learning is aligned with state and local guidance.
I would like to offer some perspective on the Governor’s statements today.
First, the Governor’s statements reinforce that student and student safety are of paramount concern. It’s important to keep in mind that the Governor’s criteria are not the only factor in a decision to re-open. Even with a 14 day decline in COVID-19 cases, local and county health officers must still amend Shelter-in-Place orders to permit schools to reopen, and BUSD will have to ensure that it can implement a broad-ranging set of health practices.
Second, It is too early to tell whether these new statewide criteria will have an impact on the dates identified by the Board for a possible shift to a “hybrid” model of education. (The Board voted that elementary and middle schools will use distance learning until October 9; and that the high schools would use distance learning until as late as December, with an assessment to take place in October.)
Third, the Governor has left a number of critical questions unanswered, such as the financial support that school districts need in order to reopen, including upgrading facilities, supporting new programs and procedures, and expanding staffing for a hybrid model. Also, while there was mention of prioritizing testing and contact tracing for public schools, it is not clear how or when that will be implemented.
On July 29, at the Board of Education meeting on July 29th, I look forward to sharing more information about the details of a revised Distance Learning plan, including daily and weekly schedules at each grade level. We have been working with our Principals, teachers and instructional leaders to ensure that we open in the fall with a distance learning model that will be very different from the crisis teaching program we quickly put in place in March when schools closed. Please join me and District staff, who have been working throughout the summer to create an educational program that will support our students with equity, excellence, engagement and enrichment opportunities for all. Information on how to join the meeting online will be posted online a few days before.
Update on COVID-19 in our community
July 17, 2020
Yesterday afternoon, July 16, we learned that a member of our staff at Malcolm X School has tested positive for novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The District is working with Berkeley Public Health Division, who will coordinate the response. Public Health will notify anyone who could have been in close contact with the staff member.
This case is unfortunately part of the increased incidence of community spread throughout the State of California, including Alameda County, and is the first known case of COVID-19 in Berkeley Unified. We have been preparing for this possibility, and as we have throughout the pandemic, BUSD will continue to follow health department protocols and procedures related to a confirmed case in our school community. This includes implementing CDC’s guidance for “Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Building if Someone is Sick.”
Out of an abundance of caution, and effective immediately, BUSD will be suspending most in-person operations to allow time for an additional review of risk reduction practices and training, including incorporating new guidance which just came from the California Department of Public Health today, July 17.
This temporary pause in operations goes substantially beyond the recommendation of Public Health, which recommends a closure of 2-5 days at just one site. This decision was made to allow more time before the beginning of the school year to review and incorporate new state and local guidance and procedures. The temporary halt for in-person work activity is primarily focused on maintenance and operations, and has several exceptions:
- All Managers
- School Principals and Assistant/Vice Principals
- Essential Central Office staff in Business Services, Payroll, and Enrollment
- Nutrition Services staff
- District Security (not including School Safety Officers)
- Summer construction projects, such as BHS Little Theater renovations, and cafeteria renovations at John Muir and Cragmont
- Selected voluntary responsibilities as approved by supervisors
- Voluntary student programs, such as the BHS Athletics Conditioning Program
- Private Summer Camps taking place on BUSD facilities
We want to remind all staff of the importance of continuing to follow the essentials of public health guidance, including wearing face coverings that cover your nose and mouth, keeping at least 6 feet away from people outside your household, washing hands, and staying home when you do not feel well.
Any questions should be directed to your supervisor or to the Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources, SamanthaTobias-Espinosa, email@example.com
Recommendation to Begin the Year in Distance Learning
July 13, 2020
Dear Colleagues, this important message is about to go out to our BUSD families. Principals, please share with your PTA lists (a version in Spanish will be ready soon and posted on our website). Thank you.
July 13, 2020
Dear Berkeley Community,
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, handwashing, 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, handwashing 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 reopenings 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,
Berkeley Unified School District
Zoom All-Staff Meeting
June 11, 2020
Important Survey about August 2020 – Please Respond
June 2, 2020
We ask that you take a few minutes to answer a survey that will help us to understand your thoughts about returning to school and work in August 2020.
Along with all school districts in the country, our ability to plan for on-campus learning is affected by a very large number of unanswered questions. Some of these uncertainties come from the evolving and incomplete guidance from public health and state officials about how to safely reopen schools.
We are also contending with the impact of very large budget reductions to public education, and the need to review and revise our contracts with teachers and classified staff to meet changing needs.
At this point, we are planning for Fall 2020 with the intention to strengthen our Distance Learning program, while also working on scenarios for having at least some of our students on campus. We will be working on these issues throughout the summer.
We want you to know we are committed to supporting students to learn both on and off campus, and that we take seriously the call from many families and staff that our schools reopen in the fall, as well as the concerns expressed by families and staff about how to do so safely.
We would appreciate a response by the end of the day Monday, June 8th, so that we can include your input as soon as possible into our planning. Please note, there is one survey for classified and one for certificated – they are identical, but it helps to collect them separately.
Brent Stephens, Superintendent
Reflections on this Week, and Important Updates
May 29, 2020
This letter was just sent to our BUSD families, and I’d like to share these reflections and updates with you as well.
This week, I begin by solemnly marking the ongoing and repeated trauma experienced by families of color, and African American families especially. The killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbury should affect all of us. As we hear and join in the nationwide calls for justice and activism, I’m aware that our children are reacting to this news in pain, anger and frustration, without the full personal support of their classmates and teachers. Our ability to come together, mourn, and demand change is another of the many benefits of our school community that I deeply miss.
We’re now coming close to finishing this school year, and we’re still in a state of great uncertainty. We’re all hoping for guidance soon about how and when to reopen our schools so that students and staff are as safe as possible. We’re also contending with the largest single-year reduction in state funding to public education in a generation. And we know that we have many plans to make with our labor partners, which will take time, partnership, and care.
Like you, I’m trying each day to reconcile what I want to be true – a return to our normal lives, with students in school and caregivers at work – with the reality that COVID-19 will be present in our communities for the foreseeable future. For this reason I asked our principals last week to focus their fall planning efforts on strengthening our Distance Learning plan with the assumption that it may have to form the core of our educational program. In parallel to this work, we are also planning for how we can use BUSD facilities in the fall to supplement distance learning, in the event that we are able to do so.
This planning has our full collective attention, and as it takes shape, I’m committed to keeping you updated about our progress.
Student Make Up and Staff Planning Week, June 8-12
One component of our planning must involve a serious, district-wide reflection on what worked and didn’t work about the emergency Distance Learning Plan that we wrote in March, in the wake of the Shelter-in-Place orders. To this end, at its May 27 meeting, the Board of Education voted to approve June 8-12 as a Student Make Up and Staff Planning week. This week will allow students, and especially students who have had challenges far greater than others, to complete and turn in all outstanding assignments by Friday, June 12. For our seniors, this represents an important opportunity to complete work and avoid the possibility of having to make up a class over the summer.
This is what you and your student can expect during the week of June 8-12:
- No new assignments from teachers are expected
- Students may continue to turn in work, and teachers will continue to accept this work
- Teachers are expected to be accessible to students during the week, typically via email
- No Scheduled Office Hours are expected
- Grades are still due on Friday, June 12 for middle and high school students.
This reduced teaching load during June 8-12 will permit teachers and staff to come together after three months of distance learning to reflect, learn, and plan for the coming school year, which we anticipate will feature the ongoing use of distance learning. Teachers will have professional development opportunities and school meetings, and a chance to develop a stronger educational program for Fall 2020, including discussions about additional live instruction, common scheduling, and teaching practices.
Pre-K and Elementary Report Cards
After much deliberation, we have decided that Pre-K students and elementary school students will not receive report cards for the final portion of the school year because many elements of the report card, like in person assessments, could not be completed during the school closure period.
Family Survey Next Week
Early next week, we will send a survey to families and staff about a number of important questions about the Fall. In particular, we are looking to understand families’ and staff’s feelings about their comfort level with returning to on-campus learning (if it is permitted) and child care needs. Please help us to plan effectively for the coming school year by taking a few minutes with this survey next week.
As always, thank you. This week especially, as we witness and participate in important reactions to injustice, thank you for your commitment to our shared community, and all our children. We’ll get to a better place one shared step at a time.
Zoom All-Staff Meeting
May 28, 2020
June Planning Week; Plans for August
May 22, 2020
Dear BUSD Colleagues,
As we head into the Memorial Day weekend, I wanted to share with you the latest news about our evolving plans for next year, including making a change to the teaching schedule for the last week of this school year, and my current thoughts about what the Fall of 2020 is likely to look like in BUSD. I will be sharing this message with families as well.
Student Make Up and Staff Planning Week, June 8-12
At next week’s School Board meeting, I will ask for the approval to change the last week of the year into a “Student Make Up and Staff Planning Week.” During this week, teachers will not be expected to assign new work to students, or conduct Office Hours. Students can use this time to make up and submit missing assignments. It has become increasingly evident to me that we urgently need more time for staff to work together so that we can implement a stronger educational program in the Fall. I recognize this is a change to everyone’s plans, and ask for your understanding as we prioritize planning time so that our students and families are supported by a redesigned and strengthened school experience.
Planning for Next Year
There is still great uncertainty about whether and how school campuses will be permitted to open in the Fall. In order to permit our schools to plan as effectively as possible, I have provided our school principals with the following guidance, which is founded on the high likelihood that COVID-19 will continue to be present in Berkeley in the Fall
- Focus planning efforts on strengthening our Distance Learning plan, with the assumption that it may have to form the core of our educational program. Even if we are able to make partial use of our school facilities, campus learning is likely to be interrupted by periods of school closure if and when the pandemic surges again.
- If local health officials permit the use of school facilities in the fall, the number of students who can be on campus will have to be greatly limited by social distancing requirements, which means plans for facilities use will have to be supplemental to a core program of Distance Learning.
Because it appears right now that we will not be able to bring all of our students back to their school at the same time, we are also beginning to actively explore additional school-day supervision for elementary age students, and for the young children of our staff. As plans and options are developed, I will continue to share the options that can be provided.
Budget for 2020-21
California school districts learned last week from the Governor that we should begin to prepare for a 10% reduction in the funding we had expected for next year. For BUSD, this means a cut of $7 Million, which is an extremely large amount and will lead to a reduction of services and programs.
We are still trying to absorb this news, and have begun to develop a set of options for how we could cut this large amount from our services. We are committed to making these decisions as transparently as possible, and will offer frequent updates to the community about this painful process. While it is our hope that Congress will pass funding to mitigate the situation, we know that difficult decisions will have to be made.
In the midst of all of this upheaval, I wish you and your family a peaceful holiday weekend. We will be in touch next week with further information, as well as provide a survey for families and staff about the fall. In the meantime, as always, the Berkeley community has my gratitude for your generosity, patience, and perseverance.
Zoom All-Staff Meeting
May 21, 2020
Optional: Weekly Zoom Webinar with Superintendent Stephens
May 21, 2020
Weekly on Thursdays, 12:00 – 12:30pm
May 21 until Jun 26, 2020
As you know, there is a very large set of questions about the Fall of 2020 that school districts around the country are facing. Though we do not have a clear sense right now of the public health conditions in August, it is clear that COVID-19 will continue to impact schools in the coming school year, and that schools will continue to be different from what we’re used to.
I plan to host a weekly OPTIONAL 30-minute Zoom webinar for all interested classified and certificated employees. Each week, I’ll share developments in our planning for the Fall. I hope that these webinars will provide you with a chance to hear directly from me about our developing plans for the Fall of 2020.
These webinars will take place each Thursday from 12:00 – 12:30.
See email for Zoom details.
Thought Exchange, and Planning for the Future
May 15, 2020
Dear Berkeley Colleagues and Community,
(la traducción al español estará disponible aquí)
Yesterday Governor Newsom provided a state budget which includes significant cuts to public school education funding due to the economic effects of the COVID-19 crisis. The only good news is that the cuts are somewhat less than the worst case scenarios we’d been bracing for, but clearly we are facing yet another challenge as we try to plan for the coming school year. Nonetheless, I remain confident that we will confront this challenge by drawing upon the skills, thoughtfulness, creativity and caring of our educators and our community.
I’d like to ask you to continue to engage with us as we work to develop solutions. If you weren’t able to attend the May 13 virtual Town Hall, you can view it on the BUSD YouTube channel, as well as view the slide deck we used at the Town Hall which outlines the District’s planning process for school in the Fall of 2020.
We talked about the likelihood that in the fall of 2020, we will have to greatly reduce the number of students in classrooms and on school busses to reduce risk of spread of coronavirus, and that also means that we will need to plan for continuing a distance learning program through the fall of 2020 as well.
At the Town Hall we considered two questions, and I’d like to invite you to respond to these questions as well, by using a platform called Thought Exchange.
- Students’ time on campus may be very limited in 2020-2021. What thoughts do you have about the best ways to use our school facilities to support children and families? https://my.thoughtexchange.com/776850038
- Distance Learning will have to be part of the plan for 2020-21. What are your thoughts about ways to sustain students, staff and families for a longer period of time? https://my.thoughtexchange.com/280125156
To answer these questions, and to see responses from other members of the community, please do not respond to this email – please go to the links provided above, and provide your thoughts there, and then please spend some time giving your rating of 1 to 5 stars to each of about 20-30 thoughts that others have suggested. This helps us get a sense of what issues are of particular concern across our community. We are also holding additional outreach, including a meeting hosted by PCAD (Parents of Children of African Descent) on May 26, a Spanish language Town Hall on May 28 and a Student Town Hall (date tbd).
Thank you all for your thought partnership as we prepare for our future together. It is appropriate to quote Malcolm X, as we head into the three-day weekend that is marked in his honor: “Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs only to the people who prepare for it today.” Working together, I know we will find solutions that will strengthen our community and support our children.
Zoom All-Staff Meeting
May 14, 2020
Town Hall Follow-up
April 30, 2020
I’d like to invite you to continue to engage with us as we respond to COVID-19 and plan for the future. Last night, we began using a tool called Thoughtexchange to gather feedback from our community. This format allows people to share thoughts and rate the thoughts of others so that we can get a sense of a range of concerns, “crowdsource” ideas, and incorporate suggestions into our planning.
Participation will be open until midnight on Monday, May 4.
Even if you’ve already contributed, you can go back to offer additional suggestions and take a look at other ideas that are popping up. After you share your thoughts, please consider and rate at least 20-30 thoughts of others. Your thoughts and ratings are anonymous. You can come back as often as you’d like to participate and in fact, we ask that you do come back to star some of the new ideas shared since you first participated. Here are just two examples of the thoughts that have already been shared:
Your thoughtful participation is crucial and valued. We will share results from this exchange and use this as one way to inform discussions about eventually reopening our schools. This exchange is just one of many ways we are gathering input from families and staff. We are also surveying students and familiesfamilies specifically about distance learning, and developing a survey for staff as well. We are also in the process of putting together workgroups, advisory committees, and outreach to under-served families. In these unprecedented times, we are grateful for your support and collaboration.
Updates: Town Hall, Graduation, Zoom, Planning
April 29, 2020
In this mid-week letter to the BUSD community, I offer a number of important updates which I’m sharing with you and well send to our families shortly.
Reminder of Town Hall This Evening
This evening, April 29th, I hope that you will join me and other members of the BUSD School Board and staff for our second virtual Town Hall about the COVID-19 School Facilities Closures and our ongoing efforts to convert the district to online learning support. This process has been very difficult, and we’ll offer updates and respond to questions from the meeting’s participants. We will also offer some estimates of the impact of a potential recession on our district’s budget for 2020-2021 and collect feedback about the Fall of 2020.
We plan to hold a third Virtual Town Hall on Wednesday, May 13.
High School Graduation Ceremony
As most people expected, we have decided that our traditional high school graduation cannot take place this year, and the ceremony at Haas Pavilion has been formally cancelled.
In place of this beloved event, we have now decided to work with a video production company, Herff Jones, to create a livecast graduation event that students and their families can view from their homes. The livecast event will be somewhat like an awards show, with speakers, performances, and short videos of our graduates as they “cross the stage” into the next phase of their lives. We all acknowledge that this is only a facsimile of a traditional graduation event, but we hope that this event will provide some sense of completion and satisfaction to our seniors. The BHS and BTA/BIS teams will share more about the details of this graduation video in the coming week.
We also plan to hold similar online commencement events for students who are in fifth and eighth grade.
Zoom Restored in BUSD on May 4
After several weeks of direct work with Zoom, and some criticism of Google Meet, the use of Zoom will be permitted beginning on Monday, May 4. Teachers may select from Zoom or Google Meet for online interaction with students, and will take care to follow BUSD’s updated security protocols for Zoom. Further information will be coming from the DigiTech team, and instructions for staff and students will be posted at this link: http://www.berkeleyschools.net/zoom-instructions/
Planning For 2020-2021
Though the state has not yet notified school districts that there will be budget reductions next year, state budget officials and policy researches are widely commenting on the likelihood of a deep recession and severe state budget reductions stemming from COVID-19. To prepare for this, I plan to assemble a number of work groups to make contingency plans for additional reductions to our budget as well as review possible responses to the Governor’s “Roadmap to Re-OpeningRoadmap to Re-Opening.” The Superintendent’s Budget Advisory Committee will be re-convened in May and June to prepare contingency plans for an additional $2 million in reductions. The District workgroups will include consultation with advisory committees:
- A committee composed of representatives from the Parent Advisory Committee (PAC), District English Language Advisory Committee (DELAC), BSEP and BERRA Planning and Oversight Committee (P&O), and the PTA Council, plus staff and community volunteers
- A joint committee composed of representatives from our labor partners, including teachers, administrators, and classified employees
As we go through this sixth week of Shelter-in-Place orders, I continue to wish all of you well. I look forward to our ongoing engagement as we confront these many challenges together. We’ll continue to hold the best interests of our children at the center of our decisions.
Planning for this year, summer and fall
April 24, 2020
As you may know, at this week’s School Board Meeting I brought a resolution requesting that the Board of Education close school facilities for the remainder of the school year. In the event that the Alameda County Public Health Officer indicates that schools may re-open, this decision will be re-visited. This is in keeping with the guidance from the Bay Area County Offices of Education, but it was nonetheless a difficult moment to affirm that it is highly unlikely that we will return to school this year. I know this is particularly disappointing for our students and families who were looking forward to the plans for traditional commencement and graduation ceremonies, whether on our school campuses or on UC campus, and I want to assure you that we are developing plans for alternative celebrations that we hope will be meaningful and joyous. Our school principals will share details about these evolving plans with each school community next week.
Meanwhile, I want to share with you where we are currently with some of our plans for the future. While we continue to focus on our current Distance Learning work, we also have to think about the near future. Last week, I wrote about three major areas of focus: planning for the Summer of 2020; for the Fall of 2020; and for further budget reductions.
Each one of these topics – summer programming, reopening schools in the Fall, and planning for a likely recession – is highly complicated. I’m planning another online Town Hall, using a platform called “Thought Exchange”, to solicit your input on the challenges we’re facing and possible solutions. The Town Hall will be held on Wednesday, April 28th at 6:30 pm, with options for feedback to be held open online throughout the following day to give everyone a chance to provide input. Details will be posted on our www.berkeleyschools.net website prior to the Town Hall, and also sent via email to staff, students and parents / guardians.
I am also forming three district work groups, each led by members of the BUSD administrative team:
The Summer Planning Workgroup will develop modified versions of BUSD’s traditional summer programming (Special Education Extended School Year, high school credit recovery, and BEARS for qualifying elementary and middle school students). This group will provide a draft plan to the Board of Education no later than May 15. Among the goals of this workgroup will be:
To plan for extended learning opportunities for students most impacted by the school facilities closures, especially low income, English learners, and foster youth.
To coordinate with Berkeley summer activity providers to maximize enrichment and learning opportunities for BUSD students
The Fall 2020 Planning Workgroup. All across the State, school districts are trying to figure out what it might look like to open school in the fall. As Governor Newsom has said, we will have to envisage some very different ways to bring our students back to school. I have been particularly intrigued by some initial thoughts developed by the San Diego County Office of Education, which has developed an overview of the types of issues that districts should consider as they plan. In particular, I note the possibilities of delayed, or phased reopening, and a variety of strategies to reduce the number of students on campus, including hybrid classroom and online options.
The Superintendent’s Budget Advisory Committee. I’m planning to reconvene this advisory group in order to consider the likelihood of additional budget reductions to our General Fund, if, as we expect, State funding will be significantly reduced due to the impact of the economic slowdown caused by COVID-19.
I will continue to keep you informed as these workgroups develop proposals. There is no roadmap for any of this, so I thank you for your partnership and good will as we continue into uncharted territory together, with the wellbeing of our students and our community as our guiding light.
In gratitude –
Best wishes for the weekend and looking ahead
April 17, 2020
Dear Berkeley Public School Community,
As this week closes, I’d like to offer a few reflections about our second week of district-wide distance learning, and as best I can, a look ahead at what may be on the way.
First, we continue to be in a time of truly nerve-wracking uncertainty, and I acknowledge and respect that the COVID-19 crisis is impacting our community in many different ways, including unemployment, housing and food uncertainty, emotional distress and isolation, boredom, and an uncountable number of lost experiences. We should take heart that our shared sacrifices appear to be making a difference in the spread of coronavirus and that together we are saving lives. But still, all of this is extremely difficult and the impact is cumulative.
This week, many more students and teachers appear to have developed a beginning rhythm for distance learning, and I admire our teachers, students, and families for trying hard to make this work. Still, there are many issues that remain in front of us. We continue to make progress toward restoring Zoom to full use, but we’re not there yet. We’re also working on online graduation activities, providing additional clarity about grading and optional work, and internet access.
Planning for the Summer
We do not know yet whether BUSD will be permitted to conduct summer programs in our school facilities, or whether summer camps and programs will be able to operate. We’re beginning planning now for a distance learning version of summer learning, both for the programs we usually operate, like Special Education, BEARS, and credit recovery, and for an expanded set of enrichment and academic offerings for students. We hope to partner with a variety of Berkeley summer programs to develop a variety of options for students, with a special lens on serving students who are most vulnerable during this crisis.
Planning for Next Year
After Governor Gavin Newsom shared his Roadmap for Lifting Shelter-In-Place Orders this week, it appears that school in the Fall will continue to be profoundly affected by coronavirus, with physical distancing measures required in order for students to return to school. In his remarks on the subject, he suggested that half-day instruction, smaller class size, weekend offerings, and even staggered year-round school calendars may have to be considered by districts. We can easily speculate that the 2020-2021 school year might have to look like a hybrid version of in-person schooling on our campuses, along with many ongoing elements of distance learning.
All of these possibilities are a lot to contend with, and I recognize that another intensive round of new planning, consultation, and communication with Berkeley families and staff will be necessary to respond to this next stage of the COVID crisis.
State Revenue for Public Schools
On Wednesday evening, the Board of Education completed its approval of $1.3 million in cuts for the coming school year. Sadly, our 2020-2021 budget is now also uncertain. Many news reports indicate that a large recession is looming, and that public schools may experience dramatic reductions in funding in only a few months. To be proactive about this potential challenge, I plan to re-convene the Superintendent’s Budget Advisory Committee, and consult other district budget committees to begin developing lists of possible additional cuts should we be required in May or June to make additional reductions.
Patience and Compassion
As a final thought, this moment calls for patience and compassion – most especially for our young people. School, the foundation of students’ social and educational experience, has been pulled away, and many of our children are in distress. The same is true for parents/guardians, and for our staff. In the middle of trying to resolve an overwhelming number of technical issues, I’m trying hard not to lose track of the importance of connection, communication, patience, and compassion. Always important in school, these values have never been more essential. In the midst of so many unresolved questions, practicing these values is the right approach.
This article from tolerance.org has garnered lots of attention this week, and if you have a few minutes, I recommend it.
My best wishes for this weekend, and for finding some respite from any challenges you and your family may be experiencing .
In gratitude –
April 10, 2020
Dear BUSD Teachers and Staff,
I’ve been thinking about all of you a lot. In fact, you and your students are at the center of my thoughts all the time. Though we’re just getting started as a district with this new thing called “distance learning”, I know that you’re tired.
I recognize that this fatigue is in part emotional, and comes from the worry you feel for your own families and loved ones. It comes from the overwhelming uncertainty of our shared circumstance; it’s almost impossible right now to know how and when this is all going to end.
I know too, because many of you have reached out to me by email, that this period of time has been confusing. This quote from a teacher, shared in a report about teachers’ well-being during the COVID-19 shutdown that was published yesterday, describes one part of this tension:
There is this huge dissonance right now between the messages such as ‘be well’ and ‘take care of yourself’ at the end of emails, and ‘in this time of uncertainty.’ Yet we have to partake in multiple seminars, read links related to online instruction, legal requirements in special ed, due process, timelines, etc. Everyone needs to be reminded again about how the brain works.
It’s not really enough to share with you that I am grateful to you for what you’ve already done to support students and their families. But I’m writing at the end of this first bumpy, frustrating week of district-wide distance learning to do just that. I’m grateful to you. I hope you’ll keep at this, and recognize that your efforts are counted among the many heroic and altruistic works that we’re witnessing all around us. Please know that this is the way I see you and your contributions.
In admiration –
PS. I am working on a longer communication to our community in response to the concerns raised about distance learning, Zoom conferencing, and other questions that have arisen over the past week, including at our Town Hall last night. Please look for that to come by the end of the day as well.
April 8 Update on BUSD Use of Zoom
April 8, 2020
Dear Berkeley Unified Colleagues,
I’m writing to follow up on yesterday’s message about the temporary pause on using Zoom or other video conferencing products, including Google Meet, for real time student-teacher interactions.
Below is the message I will be sending soon to all families about this temporary pause that we feel is needed to protect our students. The letter contains additional information about what happened yesterday in a BHS Zoom session and that led directly to my decision to pause video conferencing across the district.
In the meantime, I want you to know that:
You can continue to use Zoom and other online platforms for real time interactions with your peers, just not with students;
We are working on updating staff professional development tools for the use of Zoom, Google Meet, and other tools;
Please continue to reach out to students and families via email, links to activities, and other asynchronous methods that allow you to connect. Since Monday, parents are telling us that teachers’ interactions with their children have had great meaning for our young people. Just please refrain from using real time connections until we have this solved – hopefully within the next few days.
Thank you all for such a strong launch to our BUSD Distance Learning Plan since Monday. Please keep it up; your contributions to our students’ well being is immensely meaningful in these very uncertain times.
Important Updates about School Facilities Closure and Distance Learning
April 7, 2020
Dear BUSD Colleagues,
I hope that all of you are well.
This evening I plan to send the following message to families. I’m sending this out now to staff so that you have this message in advance of this larger communication:
Today Alameda County Superintendent of Schools L. Karen Monroe announced a regional agreement that school facilities should remain closed for the remainder of the school year. The joint statement was made by County Superintendents from Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and San Francisco, after consultation with County Health Officers from the six counties as well as City of Berkeley Health Officer Dr. Lisa B. Hernandez.
“Closing schools limits the spread of the virus among families, but to make that decision meaningful, families and children need to continue to stay home, except for essential activities,” said Dr. Lisa B. Hernandez, the City of Berkeley Health Officer. “I urge parents to avoid playdates and social gatherings. Our community depends on you.”
This is a disappointing but not unexpected announcement, and it does help us clarify that our plans are likely to be for a longer term. Given today’s announcement, at the April 15 School Board meeting I will recommend that the Board take formal action to keep our campuses closed and that we plan for distance learning for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. I will also ask that the Board commit to revisiting this decision if Public Health guidance changes.
On Thursday, April 9 from 6:30 to 8:00 pm, we will hold an online Town Hall to provide further updates on school district operations, including distance learning and support for families, and we will have district leadership available to answer questions.
Temporary Suspension of Zoom and Google Meet for Student Instruction
You may have heard that school districts across the country are dealing with issues of “Zoom bombing” in which people join public meetings and say or do inappropriate things. We put many controls in place that we had thought would protect our online sessions, but I am dismayed to report several incidents of inappropriate behavior during our teachers’ office hours yesterday and today. In two incidents, students behaved inappropriately, forcing teachers to end instructional sessions. The third incident involved illegal activity from an adult who appeared on screen during a Zoom instructional session at Berkeley High School. Berkeley Police are investigating this incident. I am asking our teachers to stop using Zoom and Google Meet for online meetings while we look into whether we can truly assure student safety in this context. Teachers will continue providing instruction this week using tools such as Google Classroom and recorded lectures which do not have a live interaction component. We will keep you posted as we work toward a solution.
Brent Stephens, Superintendent
Moratorium on Zoom and Google Meet through Friday April 10
April 7, 2020
Dear Berkeley Unified Teachers and Staff,
You may have heard that school districts across the country are dealing with issues of “Zoom bombing” in which people join public meetings and say or do inappropriate things. We put many controls in place that we had thought would protect our online sessions, but I am dismayed to report several incidents of inappropriate behavior during our teachers’ office hours yesterday and today. In two incidents, students behaved inappropriately, forcing teachers to end instructional sessions. The third incident involved illegal activity from an adult who appeared on screen during a Zoom instructional session at Berkeley High School. Berkeley Police are investigating this incident.
In order to make sure that all our Teacher – Student meetings are safe from outside interruptions, we are calling a moratorium on using Zoom or other products, including Google Meet, for any live interaction with students for the remainder of this week – through Friday, April 10.
After evaluating Zoom and alternative solutions, and putting in place some new protocols and thoroughly testing them, we will make a determination on how to safely conduct teacher-student sessions for the remainder of our distance learning plan.
This means that for this week the 180 minutes of student contact Office Hours will not be an expectation for any teacher. Teachers should continue providing asynchronous (not live) instruction using tools such as Google Classroom and recorded lectures.
Thank you for your hard work and perseverance, as we continue to find the best ways to provide an education to our students in the era of shelter in place.
Brent Stephens, Superintendent
and Jessica Lee, Jay Nitschke, and the DigiTech Team
School Facilities Closure, Grading, and Distance Learning Update
April 2, 2020
Dear Berkeley Unified Community,
I hope you have been able to enjoy some sunshine during this spring break week, and are tolerating this week’s news about the extension of the Governor’s Shelter-in-Place order. Please continue to look for new ways to take care of your physical, mental and emotional health as we adapt to our shelter-in-place circumstances.
This week, we all learned of a number of new developments. These include:
- The Shelter-in-Place has been extended to May 3rd, and our State and County leaders are stating that school facility closures are very likely to extend further, for the remainder of the school year.
- Yesterday, Governor Newsom said, “It seems self-evident that we should not prepare to bring our children back into the school setting.” Governor Newsom and State Superintendent Tony Thurmond’s statements about the length of facilities closures was further reinforced by Alameda County Office of Education Superintendent Karen Monroe, who stated, “it is now clear that California’s schools will be engaged in distance learning for the remainder of the school year.”
- Just last night, the state issued guidance on grading and graduation which we are currently studying. UC has also shared that SAT testing requirements will be temporarily waived. The University of California, California State University systems, California Community Colleges, and the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities have issued a joint statement that they will accept “Pass/No Pass” grades in lieu of letter grades for A-G high school courses completed in winter/spring/summer 2020. I will be issuing a directive that grades for the remainder of the year will be issued as Pass/No Pass, and I have attached a draft Grading Policy which will be discussed with the Board.
We will continue to work closely with city and county health officers, as well as the Alameda County Office of Education, to assess whether BUSD will extend the school facilities closure period until the end of the school year. A number of California districts and counties have now announced that they will extend school facility closure for the remainder of the school year. BUSD has not yet made a formal decision to extend the school facilities closure period; I plan to bring a formal recommendation as to whether to close our school facilities for the remainder of the year to the Board of Education at the regularly scheduled meeting on April 15th.
I remain hopeful that our efforts to “flatten the curve” may yield the possibility of bringing students back to the classroom before the end of the year. However, in the meantime, we should all heed the Governor’s words and plan as though we may not return to the use of our school buildings this year. We will begin making plans for the probability that many of our beloved end of year traditions, including graduation ceremonies, will have to be altered substantially. We are also studying options for summer learning, in the event that the district’s usual selection of summer offerings cannot be provided on our campuses.
As you know, BUSD begins our Distance Learning program to support students learning from home beginning on April 6. Our teachers and teacher leaders are working hard while redesigning curriculum and adjusting to an entirely new way to run a classroom, all while confronting their own personal challenges with the coronavirus pandemic. We expect there will be some unevenness as distance learning rolls out over the coming weeks. Your patience and understanding as we work through any bumps along the way is appreciated.
We will be checking in with students, families and staff along the way to learn and improve our distance learning practices as we go. On Thursday, April 9 from 6:30 to 8:00 pm, we will hold an online Town Hall via Zoom to provide further updates on school district operations, including distance learning and support for families, and we will have district leadership available to answer questions. Please join us at: https://zoom.us/j/440709412
I’m sending a similar letter to this one to our families, including further information about expectations for next week, meal distribution, and access to chromebooks and internet. I want to thank the educators, Technology Department and Educational Services Department for their collaboration on developing BUSD’s Distance Learning Plan, as well as all BUSD staff and community volunteers who will in some way embark on this journey to support our students and families in the coming weeks.
Brent Stephens, Ed. D.
BUSD Distance Learning Plan Beginning April 6
March 26, 2020
Dear BUSD Teachers, Principals, and Staff,
During this indefinite period of school closures, Berkeley Unified School District is committed to supporting students to continue their learning, and to reducing the negative impact of school closures on our students’ educational progress. These efforts cannot possibly replicate the rich variety of experiences that we offer on our campuses, and many aspects of the BUSD experience will be lost during these closures.
This district-wide Distance Learning Plan, based on survey feedback from hundreds of educators, and comments from teachers, PK-12 principals, and central office staff, is meant to describe the foundational level of support that students and families will experience in the coming period of time. Please think about this as a “floor” for what we should all provide, and not a “ceiling” that limits creativity. We will depend on feedback from teachers, students, Instructional Assistants, and parents to get better at providing distance learning opportunities to students.
You may find this Google Slide overview of the Distance Learning Plan to be helpful.
Today, using a Parent Version of the BUSD Distance Learning Plan, we will communicate to BUSD parents and caregivers that we will begin distance learning in all classes on April 6. We are also asking families for patience and goodwill as we all try to learn how to support student learning from our homes, under these very trying circumstances.
Key to this plan is the formation of Distance Learning Teacher Leader teams that will create weekly “Distance Learning Activity Sets” for all grade levels, PK-5, and for many major courses in Grades 6-12. These teams will distribute these weekly activity sets to all teachers, and teachers can add to these resources each week as they wish. We hope this feels like a useful support to everyone – and especially to teachers who are now caring for children or loved ones, or for whom these technologies are relatively new. (I’m in both of these boats myself.)
The links to apply for these stipend positions are here:
- K-5 Distance Learning Teacher Leader Application
- 6-8 Distance Learning Teacher Leader Application
- 9-12 Distance Learning Teacher Leader Application
The BUSD Distance Learning Plan is lengthy, but I ask you please to read it with care. We have worked hard to think about how to support teachers and students, and also about very challenging questions related to Special Education and English Language Learners.
We are working to develop a comparable plan for the Berkeley Adult School.
I recognize that this Distance Learning Plan answers many questions, and then also brings up new ones. Please share these questions with your principal, who can share with us, and please lean on colleagues to think about the challenges you’re encountering.
This Distance Learning Plan relies on two key technologies: Google Classroom, and some form of livestreamed communication, like Google Meet or Zoom. Please know that BUSD’s DigiTech team, which is led by Jessica Lee in our Libraries department, has assembled professional development resources for teachers. These are available by clicking on this link, and there are many live demonstrations of these platforms taking place today and tomorrow. They are also available to provide support at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am very grateful to you, our outstanding professionals, and the Berkeley community for your ongoing recognition that together we are in exceptionally difficult circumstances, and that our shared goal of caring for our young people will require cooperation, goodwill, and patience.
March 25 Update to Staff from Superintendent Stephens: School Closures Extended through May 1
March 25, 2020
I write today with some difficult and unwelcome news.
Today, Public Health officers from the City of Berkeley, Alameda County, and five surrounding counties, in collaboration with County Superintendents, jointly announced a regional decision to extend school closures through May 1, 2020. This was done to slow the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) to the maximum extent. The safety and wellness of students, school personnel, and the community are the highest priorities of all schools and districts in these six counties.
During this time, Bay Area communities, including Berkeley are expected to continue adhering to the “Shelter in Place” Orders issued by the Public Health Officers, and stay home except for essential activities until further notification from local health departments.
“As our schools continue to move through these extraordinary circumstances, regional educational leaders prioritized a unified approach for the appropriate extension of school closures,” said Alameda County Superintendent of Schools, L. Karen Monroe. “Being able to come to this collective decision as a region, with the involvement of our health officers, is an important step for our districts and our families in terms of safety, as well as planning and expectations.”
As I explained in my letter yesterday, anticipating that our schools are unlikely to open again soon, last week BUSD’s Educational Services team shifted their efforts from Home Learning Resources to the development of a long-term Distance Learning Program. I fully recognize that the unexpected conversion of our entire instructional program has produced an uneven and sometimes frustrating experience for some families. I commend the work of so many teachers and administrators to do what they can for their individual classes of students in the face of these difficult circumstances, and for providing critical feedback about how the entire district should shift to a distance learning model.
I will present an outline of the District’s long-term Distance Learning Program at the Wednesday, March 25 School Board meeting, which begins at 7:30 pm. During the Shelter-in-Place, all School Board meetings will be held online only, using Zoom, a free video-based meeting tool. If you would like to observe the meeting, where you can also make a public comment, please see these instructions for participating in BUSD School Board meetings while sheltering in place.
With the Shelter-in-Place extended now for weeks, we are all going to find new ways to support our students, families and colleagues. Here are some of the resources we have found most helpful:
Support for Sheltering in Place
Brent Stephens, Ed.D.
Extended School Closure Likely: Distance Learning Program
March 24, 2020
Dear Berkeley Unified Colleagues,
I’m writing to let you know that at the Wednesday evening, March 25 Board of Education meeting, I will be discussing with the Board the likelihood that all BUSD schools could remain closed for the remainder of April, rather than reopen after Spring Break. I’ll be sharing this news with the Community soon, but wanted you to hear it first.
I’ve been carefully watching what other districts are doing to support the fight against COVID-19, as well as the rise in confirmed cases here in Berkeley and Alameda County. Yesterday, for example, Los Angeles Unified School District announced the extension of their closure through May 1, and we expect other California districts to follow suit. While the local Shelter-in-Place order is currently dated through April 7, it can always be extended. The statewide Stay Home Order has no termination date; Governor Newsom has stated it could last as long as eight weeks. With the number of COVID-19 cases in Berkeley, Alameda County and California on the rise, a reopening in two weeks seems unwise.
Long-Term Distance Learning
Anticipating that our schools are unlikely to open again soon, last week BUSD’s Educational Services team shifted their efforts from Home Learning Resources to the development of a long-term Distance Learning Program. We will launch this Program after Spring Break, with:
- Weekly Learning Activities by Grade Level and Course Content,
- Weekly Assignments from Teachers, including Two Way Immersion
- Teacher “Office Hours” on Zoom,
- Supplemental Student Supports
Further details are being discussed with our teaching staff, and I will present an outline of the District’s long-term Distance Learning Program at the Wednesday, March 25 School Board meeting, which begins at 7:30 pm. During the Shelter-in-Place, all School Board meetings will be held online only, using Zoom, a free video-based meeting tool. If you would like to observe the meeting, where you can also make a public comment, please see these instructions for participating in BUSD School Board meetings while sheltering in place.
Spring Break Meals
BUSD will be providing 5 days worth of food this Friday, March 27. This includes a meal for Friday and then 4 more sets of meals that cover breakfast and lunch during Spring Break. Lunches will be frozen. Nutrition Services will be open again on Monday, April 6, serving sets of meals on Monday, Wednesday and Friday each week at these locations. All children age 18 and under, regardless of where they live, may receive meals. Your child does not have to be enrolled in a food program, attend a BUSD school or even reside in Berkeley. You can also go to sites of meal distributions in other Alameda County communities.
The Berkeley Food Network (BFN) will be distributing bags of groceries from the BUSD food distribution sites on Friday, March 27 for BUSD families and staff. BFN will be partnering with BUSD twice a month for food bag distribution on the second and fourth Fridays. Berkeley Technology Academy (BTA) continues to operate a food pantry with the Berkeley Food Network on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month from 2:30 – 4:00 pm at 2701 Martin Luther King Jr. Way. Community members can pick up fresh produce, protein and eggs, frozen prepared foods, and packaged goods there.
School districts in other cities, states and nations are all struggling to balance the safety of students, staff, and their community during the coronavirus pandemic, along with the profound impact long-term school closure has on students and families. Keeping schools closed after Spring Break is a huge challenge and disappointment, but I hope this disappointment and disconnection will be decreased as teachers reach out to connect with students online, and as students more fully immerse themselves in distance learning.
Brent Stephens, Ed.D.
Friday March 20 Message from Brent Stephens
March 20, 2020
Dear Berkeley Unified Staff,
It’s Friday now, and we’re one week into a difficult and uncomfortable new reality. I haven’t had a lot of time to personally process everything that is happening, but I continue to feel pretty stunned by this week’s events. I’m grateful that my family is OK, and sincerely hope the same for yours.
I recognize that there are many questions that feel unresolved right now, and I ask for your patience as we all regroup and try to retool the district to function in the face of mass school closures, shelter-in-place orders, and the frightening prospect of a large outbreak. I know there are information deficits and communication bottlenecks everywhere, and I’m committed to taking them on as quickly as possible.
I write with a few things I’d like to share – these seem to be some of the most pressing concerns I hear most from our staff:
First, all BUSD staff and contractors will continue to be paid through the full period of this school closure. This is the right thing to do, and this won’t change at any point in this crisis. Please count on this.
One of the ways we can get through this strange time of “social distancing” is to reconnect – with each other, and with our students and families. Please reach out in whatever way you can. We want our students and our community to know that we’re here and miss them and will see them again. Let them know that we will be there to support them to continue to learn.
Finally, though there are many people to appreciate for their work this difficult week, all across the district, including security, custodial, fiscal, payroll… so many that I can’t list them all, I hope you’ll join me in a special thank you this week to our Nutrition Services workers. They never missed a beat, and were out at our schools preparing and serving meals at six different distribution points on Monday morning. This is for all of them, and for all of you:
Please find peace in your lives; next week will be another busy, confusing one, but we are going to regroup and shine together.
With all respect –
March 18 Update to BUSD Staff from Superintendent
March 18, 2020
Dear Berkeley Unified Colleagues,
We are now in extraordinary and difficult times, and very clearly, we’re all in this together.
I’m writing to provide you with an update about district operations and student learning at Berkeley Unified, and to extend the ongoing support of District leadership as we struggle together to adapt to changing circumstances.
As you may have heard, yesterday Governor Newsom suggested that most California schools are likely to remain closed until summer break. This is a shocking idea to all of us, but something that we may have to consider as a possibility for BUSD. While we will have to continue to evaluate the situation, at this point at the very least, I think it is realistic to say that we do not expect to open BUSD schools immediately after Spring Break, as we had hoped.
Governor Newsom’s Executive Order also promises funding to schools – expressly for the purpose of continuing the educational experiences of our students.
The Payroll Department does not expect any delays to the March 20 (new employee), March 31, and April 15 payroll. For staff who come by the District Office to receive their paychecks, we plan to mail you your check so that you are not required to come to the District Office.
School District Operations
On Monday, after the Six County Shelter-in-Place Order was announced, I directed staff to leave their workplaces to get home to make preparations and care for their families. As of today, the District Office and all departments are closed to the public, with the exception of Nutrition Services providing takeaway meals.
The Shelter-in-Place Order defines some school district operations as “essential” for the community. Currently, all members of the district’s Cabinet and many staff members are continuing to work both onsite and at home to maintain our core operations. Most staff will remain at home at this time. We are making plans to restore and maintain essential District functions, some of which will require that employees return to work on a limited basis. As we begin to restore some services, your supervisor will email you with updated plans for each department
Please check your BUSD email regularly, and check in with your supervisor, so that you have accurate and timely information relevant to our District’s operations and your work life. We will continue to keep you updated.
Home Learning Resources are now available on Berkeleyschools.net
I know that many staff members are now also engaged in the important work of helping their own children continue learning while sheltering in place. Thanks to the hard work of our Education Services team over the past few days, optional Home Learning Resources guidance is now live on the District website. I hope you’ll review these resources and help your students find them on our website.
The District has a limited supply of Chromebooks to provide to free/reduced lunch students as a priority. We plan to distribute Chromebooks to high school students this week, followed by middle school students. We will then plan to assess the technology needs of elementary students and begin this distribution as well.
Many Phone and Internet service providers are recognizing the impact that COVID-19 is having on students and are providing additional phone and internet resources for a period of time. We just received word that the local internet company Sonic is offering free high-speed internet installation for all families with K-12 or college students, as well as seniors over the age of 60.
A Special Note to BUSD Teachers
We have entered a period in which our students are at risk of profound educational loss and upheaval. As we all cope with the staggering extent of this situation, all of our educators have an important role to play to connect students in some way to learning opportunities, to their peers and to people who care about them.
Please check your email for a survey to come out Thursday that was written by BFT President Matt Meyer and me. The survey is specifically for teachers, and will help us to collect baseline information about how we can work together to build meaningful learning options for our students. We know that we cannot replicate the full school experience for our students, but every effort at this point is valuable to our students. From this point forward, our combined creativity, engagement, and ongoing outreach to our families will make a difference.
On March 3rd, only two weeks ago, but what feels like a lifetime away, the Berkeley community gave our District an extraordinary vote of confidence in passing our facilities bond, a tax for maintenance, and a new special tax to support compensation increases for BUSD teachers and staff. The Berkeley community recognizes what we already know, which is that everyone of us here in BUSD has a crucial role in the lives of our students.
We’ll work together to figure out how to take care of our students, and each other.
Brent Stephens, Superintendent
Shelter in Place Order and Our Community
March 16, 2020
Thank you for your efforts on behalf of the BUSD community during this unprecedented and challenging time. After the Shelter-in-Place Order was issued today, I asked our District Office staff to go home to take care of the needs of their own families and loved ones.
The message below will be shared with our families and community shortly.
Please be safe and care for yourselves and your families, friends and communities. We will update you as events unfold.
March 13 Update to BUSD Staff
March 13, 2020
Dear Berkeley Colleagues,
Last night, Berkeley joined a growing number of school districts and states that have closed due to the extraordinary coronavirus pandemic taking place across the globe. BUSD’s school closure will last from March 16 – March 27, and will be followed by our regularly scheduled Spring Break, from March 30 – April 3. If possible, class will resume on April 6.
This evening, Friday at 6:00 pm, the Board of Education will meet to adopt an emergency resolution about the coronavirus epidemic. On Monday evening March 16 at 7:30 pm, the Berkeley School Board will hold a special meeting to continue to deliberate in the open about our current health crisis. Both meetings will be livestreamed on the BUSD YouTube channel.
Please know how appreciative we are of the patience and goodwill that so many people are exhibiting in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. These are unprecedented circumstances that bring very deep wells of emotion, anxiety, and worry. However, we;ve already been contacted by dozens of students, parents, and community members – as well as Mayor Arreguín and our City of Berkeley partners – with offers to help. We will communicate more soon about opportunities to contribute to this effort.
In this communication, I want to lay out my thinking about what will happen now that school has closed.
Home Learning Resources
We are working now with our educators to prepare to support student learning when we are closed. Please know that this experience will not be the same as going to school, and that our schools’ instructional program – with assignments, grades, tests, and assessments – is suspended during this period. No teacher will be permitted to issue grades or “for credit” assignments, and no student will be penalized academically during this period. This will apply to all grade levels and all courses in BUSD.
Starting on Monday, March 16, optional Home Learning Resources can be accessed on our website, berkeleyschools.net. Directions on the website will guide students and parents to grade-level activities.
On a rolling basis, we will prepare a list of resources for students and families to use on a voluntary basis. These lists will include free, online resources and educational games; reading materials; and grade-level specific activities. Some teachers may choose to supplement these lists of voluntary, optional activities with additional suggestions, but these suggestions from teachers will not count for credit.
Please know that teachers will not be expected to respond to emails during this period, although some of our educators will choose to be accessible to students and families. Like all of us, our employees will also be contending with the impact of the outbreak on their own families and communities.
We will have a small voluntary team of teachers working in our central office during the closure period to offer an ongoing set of new ideas for home learning.
Additional Information about School Programs
During the period from March 16 – April 3, please note the following items:
- Transportation to and from the school will be discontinued
- The BEARS and LEARNS program will also be closed
- All Berkeley Adult School programs will be closed
- All facilities rentals are cancelled
- All athletics games and practices are suspended
Meal Service in the Event of a School or District Closure
BUSD’s Nutrition Services will remain open, unless directed to close by health officials. BUSD will continue to serve breakfast and lunches at King Middle School and BAM, Rosa Parks, Longfellow, Willard, and Berkeley High School.. These meals will be for take-out only, and the cafeteria will not be open. The schedule will be posted on our website soon and is also linked here.
Essential District Staff
Some BUSD staff are to remain at work to perform duties that are essential to the district for some or all of the closure. These groups include:
- All District-wide leadership
- All District Office Staff, except for VAPA, Library, Office of Family Engagement and Equity Liaisons, Teachers on Special Assignment, and Counselors
- District Security Staff
- Food Service Workers
- Certain Facilities Staff
- Managers will be on call
We will offer 5% differential compensation to every employee who is asked to work through this period.
Ongoing Support from City and County Partner Agencies
We are thankful for the full support of our city and county partners. The Alameda County Office of Education has provided critical guidance as we have navigated this extraordinary situation. “At the Alameda County Office of Education, we are providing support and continued partnership with our districts and schools through these challenging and rapidly changing circumstances,” said Karen Monroe, Alameda County Superintendent of Schools. “Our school and district leaders and their communities are faced with numerous difficult and unprecedented decisions and I stand with them as they navigate what is best for their students, staffs, and families.”
Likewise, we continue to work closely with our city and county health agencies. Dr. Erica Pan, Interim Health Officer, Alameda County Public Health Department (ACPHD), indicated the county health agency respects that “some districts have opted to close for planning & preparation for longer term school dismissals and we support the difficult decisions school officials are making, taking into account the needs of their staff, families, students, and administration.” City of Berkeley Public Health continues to help us assess social distancing guidance and other health agency directives. We are appreciative they provided an important localized coronavirus update to our School Board at this week’s meeting and look forward to their additional guidance as the coronavirus situation develops.”We will continue to partner with BUSD as we work to slow the spread of COVID-19,” said Dr. Lisa Hernandez, the City of Berkeley’s Health Officer.
Please look for ongoing communication from BUSD over the ensuing weeks. Thank you again for your commitment to our community and the efforts you make to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Brent Stephens, Ed.D.
BUSD Announces School Closures
March 12, 2020
Dear BUSD Colleagues.
As you may know, many local school districts are choosing to close schools, beginning next week, in order to address concerns about the spread of the coronavirus. I’m writing to let you know that Berkeley Unified will close our preschools, elementary and middle schools, as well as Berkeley Adult School, starting on Monday, March 16.
We have decided to cancel classes for our high school students sooner, and we apologize for the short notice, but as of Friday, March 13, all high school classes will be closed, so that high school staff can have time to work on options for students to do home learning while they are away from school.
Please remind your students that coronavirus is a serious health concern and they can help prevent the spread by staying home as much as possible. Berkeley High School students can still go to school on Friday to pick up breakfast from 9:00 to 9:30 and lunch from 12:00 to 12:30 at the Allston gate, and BTA students can pick up food in front of BTA. We are also making plans to provide meals for all students starting next week and will provide further details.
We hope to re-open schools after Spring Break, on Monday, April 6. Our District Office will be closed to the public while schools are closed, but District Office staff will continue to work to keep essential operations going and we will continue to communicate with you, and if need be, we will adjust the reopening date.
Please know that the Board of Education and I do not take this decision lightly. After considering guidance from health officials, we wrestled a great deal to measure the costs and benefits of closing our schools. Today’s announcement of four new coronavirus cases in Alameda County, two of which are the county’s first cases of community-acquired transmission, added to our concerns.
I have been deeply touched by the overwhelming concern I hear in our community about protecting our most vulnerable individuals from the coronavirus. We hope that this step will support the regional effort to slow the spread of coronavirus in our area.
It’s very important that we all do our part to prevent further spread of the virus. Everyone should continue to wash hands, cover your cough, stay home if you are not well, and avoid large gatherings in order to help slow the spread of the disease.
We’ll communicate more tomorrow with additional information about resources for students and families during this closure. Please go to our website at berkeleyschools.net and also watch your email for further updates as we work on providing ways to support our staff and students while the District is closed.
Brent Stepehns, Ed.D.
Information from Human Resources
All District employees will be paid during the closure. You will not need to use sick leave, vacation, or any other leave. Any pre-planned absences scheduled in the sub system(AESOP/Frontline) will be canceled centrally.
If your position is considered essential (for example: district office staff, food service, and facilities employees) you will be notified as soon as possible by your supervisor of your temporary assignment. If you are sick or caregiving for a person who is sick, you are not required to take the temporary assignment or to use sick leave or vacation during the closure.
We will continue to communicate regularly with you, and appreciate all you are doing and continue to do to support students and each other through a time of uncertainty and stress. We also want to remind everyone that in addition to consulting with your medical provider if you have health questions, we also have our Employees Assistance Program (EAP) available for employees who need support and advice on personal concerns. You can call 1-800-834-3773 for confidential assistance.
BCCE unit members to receive retroactive 2.5% ”Me-Too” increase
March 12, 2020
Dear BUSD Staff,
On October 30, 2019, Berkeley Unified School District (BUSD) and the Berkeley Federation of Teachers (BFT) reached a tentative agreement for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 contract years that was ratified by BFT and the BUSD Board of Education. The financial terms of the agreement provide an ongoing 2.5% salary increase for 2019-2020 and another 2.5% ongoing increase in 2020-2021, plus an additional 7% ongoing increase contingent upon passage of Measure E, which was passed by voters on March 3.
At the December 11th Board meeting, the Board also authorized the same increases to the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, Local 21, AFL-CIO (“Local 21”), and the Union of Berkeley Administrators (UBA). Unlike Local 21 and UBA, the current Berkeley Council of Classified Employees (BCCE) collective bargaining agreement has a “me-too” provision that reads:
If the District agrees to a higher total compensation increase for any other bargaining unit during the term of this agreement, the District shall increase the total compensation for BCCE unit members by the same percentage.
Since other employees were paid in December, the District will move forward with paying our BCCE unit members the 2.5% increase for 2019-2020 under the me-too provision in order to make sure our valued BCCE members are paid in roughly the same timeline as our other labor partners. The 2.5% increase is calculated retroactive to July 1, 2019, and we expect checks will arrive on March 13.
The Board has also approved the 2.5% increase for 2019-2020 for our Unrepresented managers/administrators (excluding those with Superintendent in their title) and confidential employees. The 2.5% increase is calculated retroactive to July 1, 2019, and we expect checks will arrive on March 13.
Your check stub will show multiple lines due to the payroll system and make sure that your PERS is credited accurately.
Recap of BFT Agreement
The agreement ratified in November 2019 provided all BFT members an ongoing increase in salary of 2.5% retroactively effective July 1, 2019, and an ongoing increase of an additional 2.5% in salary effective July 1, 2020, for a total increase of 5% over two years. In addition, the contract provides for an additional increase of 7%, effective July 1, 2020, subject to the passage of a special tax measure (Measure E) to address educator recruitment and retention, appearing on the March 2020 ballot. These terms apply to members of Local 21, UBA, and also apply to BCCE under the “Me Too” clause.
With the 5% from the General Fund over two years, and another 7% subject to the passage of the tax measure in March, a 12% increase will make Berkeley salaries more competitive in Alameda County.
Thank you for your service and commitment to the students of Berkeley Unified.
Brent Stephens, Ed.D.
Event Cancellation Guidance Updated
March 11, 2020
Updated Guidance on Event Cancellations
Like you, I’m feeling the pressures of each passing day that we confront the outbreak of the coronavirus. The more I learn and talk with members of the community and reflect on what’s happening around the planet, the more I realize that Berkeley Unified’s collective effort is important to the health of our community, our region, and our country.
It’s for this reason that I’m writing today to update the March 10 event cancellation guidance. This guidance about event cancellations draws directly from yesterday’s statement from the Alameda County and City of Berkeley’s Health Officers. After further reflection on our role in this larger effort, I am issuing these additional directives about event cancellations.
I recognize the hardship and disappointment, for students and staff, when important events are cancelled. However, social distancing is an important tool we can all use to slow the spread of the coronavirus in Berkeley, which is important to our healthcare system, to people at increased risk of contracting the coronavirus, and to our community.
All of these student events are now cancelled through March 31:
- Field trips (including both one-day trips and overnight trips)
- Other student travel
- School Assemblies, both indoor and outdoor
- Performances and concerts
- Evening gatherings at schools (including community-wide PTA fundraisers/other events, and open houses)
Additionally, all staff events, professional development, and business-related travel in March are also cancelled. If necessary, please work with your supervisor to cancel these events. We will assess our stance about canceling April events in a few weeks, but it seems likely that these cancelations will remain in effect.
We plan to work with other local districts to further assess students’ participation in athletics, but I have not made a decision about canceling athletic competitions at this time.
These activities and operations will continue:
Classroom education, including lunch, PE, recess, and after-school programs
March 14 SAT test (only because it is scheduled for this Saturday; all other testing dates will be postponed)
On campus athletics practices
On campus performing arts rehearsals
Faculty meetings at schools
School Board meetings
District and School-Base Committee meetings, such as School Site Councils and PTA meetings
I ask for your patience, goodwill, and generosity about these additional cancellations. I believe, in listening to so many public health experts, that we are only in the early stage of the COVID-19 outbreak, and that additional difficult decisions – such as an eventual school or district closure – are still in front of us.
I appreciate that we stand together as a community right now so that we can play our important role in keeping the most vulnerable in our community safe by slowing the spread of this disease.
Brent Stephens, Ed.D.
BUSD is Canceling Large Community Events
March 10, 2020
This afternoon we received new guidance from City of Berkeley Health Officer Dr. Lisa Hernandez, in keeping with guidance also issued this afternoon by Alameda County Public Health. Please share this information with any work colleagues who may not frequently read email. We are sending a separate message to families shortly.
Quotes from the City’s press release are below in italics, followed by my comments on what BUSD will be doing in response.
City of Berkeley Health Officer Recommends Limiting Mass Gatherings
- At this time, we recommend postponing or canceling non-essential mass gatherings and large community events where large numbers of people are within arm’s length of one another.
- Non-essential means events or meetings that are not critical for operations of business or entity.
- They do not include typical office environments, stores, school, colleges, or universities.
BUSD is canceling large community events in March
Unfortunately, this means we will have to cancel the Black History Oratorical Fest (3/19) and the Performing Arts Showcase (3/22). We are also canceling school assemblies, performances, evening gatherings at schools, including PTA gatherings, and open house. This is in force until we receive a further update. It could be that events planned for April and beyond might still go forward, but we cannot say at this time what to expect.
We have also reviewed the current list of planned field trips and will permit these to proceed, given that none of the field trips reported to us at this point include travel to large, indoor facilities. Athletics are not canceled at this time, although some large sports events will likely fall into the public health guidance and will have to be canceled. We anticipate that Board meetings and committee meetings will continue to be held, and we will be exploring options for optional participation by teleconference.
The City of Berkeley is not recommending closing any schools at this time
“If a staff member or student in a specific school is confirmed to have COVID-19, Berkeley Public Health will consider, based on the specific facts and circumstances of that case, whether closure of that school is warranted. The reason we are not recommending school closures at this time is because there are no lab-confirmed cases of community spread in Berkeley and children have not been shown to be a high-risk group for serious illness from this virus. As much as possible, children should be allowed to carry on with their education activities.”
This “Social Distancing” limits community spread” and protects vulnerable populations
“While the vast majority of COVID-19 patients do not become seriously ill, and fully recover, these recommendations are being issued to slow the spread, and further protect the most vulnerable.
Some children have underlying health conditions, such as weakened immune systems, that put them at higher risk. Caregivers of children with underlying health conditions should consult with healthcare providers about whether their children should stay home.”
Are we offering Independent Study, Distance Learning, etc?
It is important that teachers accommodate students who need to stay home due to illness. If you have students who are staying home for reasons other than illness or quarantine, we encourage communication between the family and the teacher and the development of homework to the extent possible for the short term. We do not have an option of adding students to BIS or Home and Hospital Instruction. Students should be offered makeup work and tests if they hvae excused absences and should not be penalized.
Will BUSD Close Schools?
If at some point a student, teacher or staff member tests positive for COVID-19, and exposed others at the school, there would be the possibility of school closure. As you can imagine, school closure, especially if it were district-wide, is a major step. Some of the considerations and repercussions of school closures are discussed in these articles:
- We Don’t Need to Close Schools to Fight the Coronavirus (NY Times)
- What Difference Will Closing Schools Make (Forbes)
- Simulating School Closure Strategies to Mitigate an Influenza Epidemic (NIH)
- Unintended Social & Economic Consequences of School Closure (NIH)
- School Closure Considerations – (CA Dept of Education)
What Happens If We Do Have to Close Schools?
We are working on plans to address the possibility of closing a school, or more than one school, and we will communicate further details later this week.
I appreciate your recognition that we are in this together, and that we’re trying to reassure and care for our community in the midst of this unprecedented situation.
Brent Stephens, Superintendent
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update for Staff
March 5, 2020
As the number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases and concern around the potential for community spread continues to grow, I want to provide some guidance to help you be informed and do advanced planning as you remain engaged in the important work of educating and supporting our students and schools.
Please use this BUSD coronavirus website page to find archives of all of our coronavirus communications to the Berkeley community.
Here’s What We Know As of Today
- On March 3 the City of Berkeley issued a press release announcing the first confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) case in Berkeley. The City reported that: “The resident returned to Berkeley on Feb. 23 from Italy, one of the growing number of countries with a COVID-19 outbreak. Concerned about being exposed through travel, the resident largely stayed at home in a voluntary self-imposed quarantine.
- This is the only confirmed case in Berkeley and there are no confirmed cases directly linked to a BUSD school or facility.
- While the City of Berkley Health Officer, Dr. Lisa Hernandez, reports that the risk of infection remains low, she has advised Berkeley that “the expanded presence of the virus in our community is a reality we should all prepare for.”
- BUSD has not been advised to alter any plans at this time. We receive our health agency guidance regarding the coronavirus from the Alameda County Public Health Department (ACPHD) and the City of Berkeley Health Department
Alameda County Public Health Department is advising residents to take these precautions to prevent respiratory illnesses:
- Wash hands with liquid soap and water and rub for at least 20 seconds;
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing;
- Refrain from touching your eyes, nose and mouth;
- Stay home when you are sick;
- Get a flu shot to protect yourself and others from the flu, which has similar symptoms to COVID19.
School Cleaning Protocols
Over the last few days, we have asked our custodians to concentrate on disinfecting “high touch” hard surfaces and to skip some of the routines tasks that they perform each day. However, we are hearing feedback that this is having a negative effect on schools’ overall cleanliness. To account for this, beginning on Monday, March 9, we are going to direct custodians to resume their regular duties. However, on Saturday, March 7, plan to invite custodians in for a full day of cleaning and disinfecting our schools. This will give us a strong base cleaning that we can work together to maintain.
We appreciate reports we’re hearing from some school communities that students, teachers, and parent volunteers are pitching in to wipe down hard surfaces. This teamwork is likely the only way that we will be able to meet the current recommendations for ongoing disinfection.
Please also know that our efforts to purchase cleaning supplies, wipes, and hand sanitizer in quantities sufficient for widespread distribution to classrooms have so far not been successful. We have ordered some wipes from our supplier and have backordered sanitizer. Unfortunately, we can’t say right now when these will be available, and we’re hearing that many other school districts are in a similar situation.
In Case of Community Spread – Planning for Trips and Events
While we have no current plans to cancel or postpone school events, we are tracking plans in case we have to make quick decisions based on public health advice.
Illness Policy for Staff
Please continue to report to work as scheduled. If you are sick, remain home. All staff members with fever (>100.4 F) should remain home from work and other activities until they have no fever for 24 hours, without fever medication. Please follow BUSD procedures for notifying your supervisor and reporting your absence. Make sure that your sick leave is up to date by checking our ESS system.
Illness Policy for Students
It is important that we accommodate students who need to stay home due to illness. We want to be sure students are offered makeup work and tests and are not penalized when they have excused absences.
While it’s important that students stay home due to illness, the City of Berkeley’s Public Health Nurse advises that we continue to follow the practices already in place regarding illnesses and not exclude students from classroom or staff from workplace if they are coughing or sneezing but otherwise able to participate and not showing signs of acute illness. We understand that ongoing media coverage about the spread of coronavirus may result in heightened concern about coughing and sneezing at school sites. The City of Berkeley Public Health Nurse provided additional guidance in our meeting yesterday: Ask yourself, is this student well enough to be engaged and learn? If they appear to be ill, that is, they are suffering from an illness and unable to learn, then they shouldn’t be at school.
School Closure Scenarios:
We understand that both Alameda County Public Health and the California Department of Education (CDE) are preparing updated guidance to be released in the coming few days that will further define how local authorities may approach the decision of whether or not to close a school with a confirmed student or staff illness. Please note that we have not received any information that school closures in our immediate area are imminent. At this stage of the outbreak, a school could be directed to close to reduce the spread of illness, but it is also possible that if and when the virus becomes more widespread, school closures become a less likely recommendation, as the benefits of closing are outweighed by all the problems it causes for students, families, staff and community.
We will continue to communicate regularly with you, and appreciate all you are doing and continue to do to support students and each other through a time of uncertainty and stress. We also want to remind everyone that in addition to consulting with your medical provider if you have health questions, we also have our Employees Assistance Program (EAP) available for employees who need support and advice on personal concerns. You can call 1-800-834-3773 for confidential assistance.
Brent Stephens, Superintendent
March 2nd Update re: COVID-19 (Coronavirus)
March 2, 2020
Dear BUSD Staff,
I’m writing to provide an update regarding COVID-19 (coronavirus). Yesterday Alameda County Public Health Department confirmed a “presumptive positive” case of COVID-19 in Alameda County. This case, and another in Solano County, are pending confirmation by testing from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Both cases are healthcare workers from NorthBay VacaValley Hospital who had exposure to the community-acquired case currently hospitalized at UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento.
The two health care workers who tested positive have been in isolation at home since the day it was learned they had contact with the patient who had contracted the virus. Public health officials worked to trace the contacts the two workers may have had. Any individuals potentially exposed are in the process of being identified and evaluated.
Alameda County is declaring a local public health emergency as part of its ongoing response and preparation for community spread in Alameda County. This allows Alameda County to be better poised to respond with additional resources as needed.
Please report to work as scheduled. If you are sick, remain home. All staff members with fever (>100.4 F / >38C) should remain home from work and other activities until they have no fever for 24 hours, without fever medication. Please follow BUSD procedures for notifying your supervisor and reporting your absence.
I appreciate that BUSD staff who are working with medically fragile students are remaining diligent in their efforts to monitor for signs of illness and ensure good hygiene in the classroom.
Increased Cleaning of Hard Surfaces in Classrooms
All hard surfaces throughout our schools are cleaned throughout the week, this includes daily disinfecting of all hard surfaces in restrooms and multipurpose rooms. Today I directed that our custodial staff increase the cleaning of student desks and stations, as well as other hard surfaces including classroom door knobs.
In Our Schools
While handling the spread of a contagion like the COVID-19 is primarily a job for public health agencies, schools play an important role in sharing timely and accurate information from credible sources with our community.
The District is distributing the CDC’s Hand Washing posters for district student and staff bathrooms, with additional posters for elementary school classrooms. The BUSD leadership team is updating our emergency plan to include the particular issues related to this virus, including the potential for “social distancing” strategies, school closures, continuity of instruction, nutrition, and special needs. We are following CDC and health department guidance for class trips and school travel to specific locations as well as for athletic events and other large gatherings. So far there are no relevant restrictions, but the situation may change.
BUSD Is Following Health Guidance for Schools
There is no way to predict exactly how the coronavirus will spread in the Bay Area. I can share more about some potential scenarios that might unfold in the coming weeks. I’m drawing directly from the CDC’s very useful guidance to schools that they issued last week. In all of these scenarios, BUSD plans to closely follow instructions that we receive from the City, County, and State health authorities. (CDC Interim Guidance for K-12 Schools, February 29).
If there are additional traceable cases in the East Bay
In the event that there are additional traceable cases in the East Bay, BUSD will continue to actively monitor all guidance to schools. We plan to increase our communication about important preventative steps like handwashing, staying home when ill, and routine cleaning.
If there are untraceable “community spread” cases in the East Bay
In this event, it may be the case that local health officials will ask for “social distancing” strategies that include canceling large gatherings. BUSD will follow these guidelines and will ask schools and PTAs to cancel concerts, assemblies, sports events, and other gatherings.
If there are cases that are specific to a particular school
If a coronavirus case is specific to a particular school community, we may be guided by local health officials to close a single school for a period of time. We are exploring the use of outside agencies to provide deep cleaning and disinfecting of a school site in the event this happens.
If there is a general coronavirus outbreak
If we eventually experience a larger, generalized outbreak of coronavirus, it might be the case that local districts will be instructed to close schools.
I want to assure you that leadership at BUSD is working diligently to keep staff and families informed. Our school district is relying on guidance from health experts: our District Nurse, the City of Berkeley Public Health, Alameda County Department of Public Health and the California Department of Public Health. BUSD also monitors information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
At times like this I’m grateful to see our staff pulling together. I will continue to provide updates as necessary.
Brent Stephens, Ed.D.
Staff Update on COVID-19 (Coronavirus)
February 26, 2020
Dear Berkeley Unified Colleagues,
I’m writing to share with you the latest information the District has about COVID-19 (coronavirus). There are still currently no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Berkeley or Alameda County.
While handling the spread of a serious contagion like the COVID-19 is primarily a job for public health agencies, I want to assure you that leadership at Berkeley Unified School District is closely monitoring information coming from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and continuing to seek regular updates from Alameda County Department of Public Health, Alameda County Office of Education (ACOE) and the City of Berkeley Health Officer, Dr. Lisa Hernandez.
The CDC reports that person-to-person spread of COVID-19 appears to occur mainly by respiratory transmission. The California Department of Public Health advises the following steps to prevent the spread of all respiratory viruses:
Wash hands with soap and water.
Avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
Avoiding close contact with people who are sick.
Staying away from work, school or other people if you become sick with respiratory symptoms like fever and cough.
As a reminder, here are guidelines the District provides to parents for determining when a child should stay home from school.
If a child feels ill enough that he/she would not be able to benefit from attending school.
If having a child at school would significantly put others at risk for contacting your child’s illness.
If a child has vomited in the last 24 hours.
If a child has had a fever in the last 24 hours.
It’s important that we also continue to ensure student and staff privacy and take steps to prevent discrimination with regard to COVID-19. As always, the health and safety of our students and staff remain our number one priority, and as such we will continue to communicate information as the situation develops.
Brent Stephens, Ed.D.
Committing Resources to Important Issues at BHS
February 21, 2020
Dear BUSD Community,
At this week’s meeting of the BUSD Board of Education, an impressive number of students from Berkeley High School came to speak to the Board and me about their experiences of sexual harassment and assault, and to ask that the District provide additional resources and programs to prevent sexual harm and support students who are victims of sexual harm.
The Board and I listened carefully to these courageous students, and to the thoughtful proposals that have been brought forward by students, parents and educators over the past two weeks. We have immediately started to plan for bringing additional resources to the school as quickly as possible – and are also ensuring that further resources are in place for the coming school year. I’ll be specific.
Right now, in the short-term, we have started to interview a number of local organizations that specialize in education, staff training, and counseling related to sexual harassment. That includes Coaching Boys Into Men, a program that students have specifically requested we implement. We’ll conduct this vetting process quickly, and will begin to introduce new partners to the BHS community in the coming weeks. We are looking at programs that offer additional consent education, organizations that specialize in responding to instances of sexual harm, programs for school athletes and coaches, and experts in Title IX reporting, investigation, and follow-up.
In the long-term, we will work to identify resources that will permit additional staff related to sexual harassment education, response, and support. Because the district is experiencing a budget deficit, we will need to make additional budget cuts or defer other program initiatives to provide for these expanded services, but we recognize the urgency of this need among our program priorities
These additional resources will be added to the supports that are currently in place at Berkeley High School. These supports include the recently created team of three intervention counselors; introductory consent education in the U9 class called Social Living, now in its second year; and the Green Dot program. Green Dot is led by Counselor Jasdeep Mahli and Dean of Students Kiernan Rok, and seeks to change peer culture by developing peer ambassadors who can influence their friends to disrupt harassing behaviors.
I encourage you to take a moment to read this brief article about Green Dot in the February 7 A+ News, the BUSD biweekly newsletter.
We will also review our current Board policy related to Sexual Harassment, particularly in light of the ideas brought to us by students. We don’t envision that only a revision of our policy will resolve the issues that students describe, but that policy can help to make any new changes more permanent and long-lasting.
I would like as well to offer a comment about the recently filed lawsuit related to a sexual assault and a claim in the lawsuit that Berkeley High School staff failed to properly report an alleged sexual assault to the authorities. This allegation made against these dedicated educators with strong professional histories is not true. While we cannot comment on the details of this pending litigation, we can strongly assert that our educators followed district policy and appropriately reported the allegation to the Berkeley Police Department. We take all allegations of sexual harm very seriously, and we are also committed to providing a thorough investigation and fair due process.
The safety of our students is our paramount concern. We believe our students’ concerns are serious and appropriate. We will continue to report on our progress as we bring additional resources to bear on these issues. We are grateful for the engagement of our students, parent/caregivers, educators and community partners as we work together to strengthen our programs, and support our students.
Brent Stephens, Ed.D
Concerns about recent events at Berkeley High School
February 12, 2020
This message from the Superintendent was shared with Berkeley parents/caregivers yesterday evening. It will also be sent to BHS students today.
Dear Berkeley Community Members,
I am writing today out of great concern for the events over the last week at Berkeley High School. Many of you will have seen or read the media’s coverage of these events – all of which centers on students’experiences, anger and concerns about sexual harassment and harm. Our students are raising serious issues in a way that is critical and powerful, and we are listening.
Though there were many concerns and emotions expressed over the last week, and during yesterday’s student walk-out and today’s conversation at our district office, many students and parents have focused on what seems to them to be the inaction of the district to address issues of sexual harm, wherever it is alleged to have taken place. We clearly hear our students’ voices that this perceived inaction is unacceptable.
To be clear, it is absolutely not acceptable that any student experiences harassment or assault or harm at any Berkeley school. The Board and BUSD staff take this seriously. We understand students are seeking additional action and change.
In the past several years, BHS and the district have completed a great deal of work in this area, from updating violence prevention education in the ninth grade, introducing Green Dot (a powerful peer-to-peer education and active bystander training program about sexual violence), adding intervention counselors, training staff on Title IX compliance, and bolstering the district’s Complaints Office with additional investigators. In January, we installed posters in the bathrooms and locker rooms of our secondary schools to provide students with information about how to report any instance of sexual harassment, either in person to an adult or by using an online complaint form.
Still, the school, district, and community can do more to educate all our young people about healthy relationships, bystander intervention, how to report an incident, and how staff should respond.
In the wake of this heightened dialogue about sexual harm, we plan several steps – some of which will take place in the near-term, and some of which will require a longer period to plan. We are right now looking at how to make additional counseling and education resources available to students who have come forward in the last few days to share their own story or who wish to support their friends. We are working to identify and secure the help of experts in the area of relationships, trauma, and healing so that we can expand the educational opportunities we make available after the ninth grade. Though funding for this work must still be identified, we will hold this as an important priority during our Spring budgeting work and will engage in discussion about this at budgeting meetings beginning tonight.
It is important to acknowledge and respond to our students’ feeling that we, the adults who take care of them, have done nothing to support them with this issue. We want students and families to know for a certainty that the high school and the district are active in investigating and addressing concerns from students about harassment and sexual harm. Even when a student reports that an incident took place off campus, outside of the school’s jurisdiction, administrators go to great lengths to ensure that the campus remains a safe place. The school administration does apply consequences when it is warranted, including suspension and expulsion, but administrators cannot share with students or parents how they are responding. Student privacy laws strictly prohibit this, even though this silence can lead to perceptions of the school’s inaction. This is a very challenging dilemma that we can’t easily solve.
We trust our young people, and trust that the painful and necessary conversations about students’ experiences on and off campus will lead to positive change in our school and community. We are committed to sharing everything we can about what we already do to limit and address sexual harm in our schools, to listening to the ideas that students bring forward, and to taking further action to better address these important concerns.
Brent Stephens, Ed.D.
Technology System Changes
February 3, 2020
Dear BUSD Colleagues,
I’m writing with information about QSS, our financial and Human Resources software, and Illuminate ISI, our student information system. At the start of the 2021-2022 school year, eighteen months from now, we plan to replace both of these technology systems.
Here are our current plans for each of these two changes.
Student Information System
Illuminate Education has informed districts using their student information system – what they call ISI – that they will discontinue this part of their software at the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year. Illuminate will continue the student achievement data portion of their business (called and BUSD plans to continue to use Illuminate for student achievement data.
Student Information Systems (SIS) are the guardians of a school district’s grades, attendance, and behavior data. The SIS collects teachers’ attendance marks and produces ADA (attendance reports) that drive state revenue, provides a gradebook for teachers to grade students and provide a platform for students and families to monitor those grades, and collects data on student behavior and other data. The SIS is the source of most of the data reported to the state that appears in the California Dashboard.
Beginning in February, 2020, BUSD’s Technology Department will work with our labor partners to have preliminary discussions with a variety of vendors to select two or three Student Information System products for extensive review in March. The final SIS contenders will be brought in for more extensive demonstrations and end-user testing, including middle school and high school gradebook testing, master scheduling, parent portal, communication tools, online registration, and other features.
The goal of the Student Information Systems review is to make recommendations to the School Board in May 2020 and to fully transition to the new system by July 1, 2021. The transition will include an extensive plan for professional development on the new SIS for both certificated and classified staff over the 9 months leading up the first days of school in August 2021, and additional professional development as needed.
Transition from QSS
The second part of our systems review will be to look at our HR and Business Services software, QSS, and associated products. QSS is the software that generates payroll, keeps track of employee benefits, ensures purchasing is tied to budget, and makes certain that staff are assigned to positions appropriately. Other systems interacting with QSS include Frontline/Aesop for absence and substitute assignment, and NeoGov for classified hiring and onboarding of staff.
As a part of the effort to increase business systems efficiency, the district is looking to move its Finance and HR systems to Escape, which is used by nearly all other districts in Alameda County. Over the second half of the 2019-20 school year, the district will be comparing the functionality of its current system, QSS, with that of Escape.
Both Escape and QSS were standalone companies five years ago, and both are now part of larger EdTech enterprises. Escape is part of Frontline, which will likely make for easier integration with Frontline’s Absence Reporting product (formerly called Aesop) which has been used by Berkeley Unified for almost a decade, and its electronic timesheet product, which the district is looking to pilot in the future.
While the direct cost of Escape is greater than QSS, and there are one-time costs of implementation, the overall efficiency of using a suite of products is expected to produce operational efficiencies, as well as reducing time spent on absence certificates and paper timesheets by teachers and classified staff in the schools.
The goal of the Finance-HR systems review is to make recommendations to the School Board in May 2020. If a change to Escape is recommended, the likely timing would be to fully transition by July 1, 2021, and work closely with end users during the year of transition to ensure data integrity and best practices
Brent Stephens, Ed.D.
Coronavirus and the cold and flu season
January 29, 2020
The cold and flu season is upon us. The District is also monitoring the coronavirus situation closely. There are no known coronavirus cases in Alameda County or the Bay Area at this time. We are in close contact with the City of Berkeley Health Officer and have discussed protocols in the event that we begin to see local cases of the coronavirus. The City of Berkeley and Alameda County will continue to keep the district office advised.
For reference, and for best practices regarding preventing the spread of infectious diseases, please see the attached joint letter from Alameda County Superintendent of Schools, L. Karen Monroe, and the Interim County Health Officer, Erica Pan, MD, MPH.
Brent Stephens, Ed.D.
Warm Wishes for the Holidays
December 20, 2019
Dear BUSD Colleagues –
For a few minutes at a time, I’m reading The Book of Joy by Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama. Because there are so many things going on all the time – like work, family, house cleaning, and errands – I’ve been reading the book for a few months. I find myself turning down the corner of a lot of pages, and then coming back to re-read certain passages. After working for many years in public education, with its inspiring moments and heavy emotional dips, I suppose I’m finding a message that I need.
Here’s an example of something in the book from Archbishop Tutu:
“Discovering more joy does not, I’m sorry to say, save us from the inevitability of hardship and heartbreak. In fact, we may cry more easily, but we will laugh more easily, too. Perhaps we are just more alive. Yet as we discover more joy, we can face suffering in a way that ennobles rather than embitters.”
As I’ve been getting to know Berkeley this year, one of my most steady impressions is that we are a community that cares. I’ve met so many BUSD staff members who put both skill and heart into their work, investing deeply in their work as a way to give back to their communities. This can lead us to worry, of course, because not all of our efforts to support young people and their families are successful. But I deeply admire these efforts, and I especially admire that so many of you keep a smile on your face, especially when the going gets rough. When you do this, you embody hope.
We’re all going to get some time to rest in the next two weeks. I hope you’ll rest well, take care of yourself, and find moments of joy. I think that this self-care is also giving to your community; it’s the foundation of emotional health that makes it possible to bring your full and joyful selves to work – and to share this with the young people we serve. It helps make it possible to laugh and to cry genuinely.
Please accept my warm wishes for a safe and happy Holiday season. I’m looking forward to our service together in 2020.
Air Quality Guidance to BUSD Schools
October 28, 2019
Dear Colleagues –
This Monday morning, October 28, the East Bay region has experienced a rise in Air Quality Index (AQI). The AQI is a measure of airborne contaminants that is maintained by the federal government.
Based on regional reports from airnow.gov, here are this morning’s readings.
The Bay Area Air Quality Management District provides more local air quality data. This report, which describes air quality conditions with a lag time of about three hours, shows AQI levels reaching 124 at Aquatic Park at 5:00 am, and reaching levels of 158 by 8:00 am.
Readings at this level are considered to be “Unhealthy”, including children and adults with medical sensitivities, like asthma. The federal government states: “People with heart or lung disease, older adults, and children should avoid prolonged or heavy exertion. Everyone else should reduce prolonged or heavy exertion.”
CDE’s guidelines for air quality provide a helpful starting point to interpreting these AQI scores. AQI readings of 124 are described in this way: “Exercise indoors or avoid vigorous outdoor activities. Sensitive individuals should remain indoors.”
Additionally, California Interscholastic Federation rules prohibit competitive play when AQI conditions exceed 151. These rules state: “An air quality index of less than 151 must be registered for all high school outdoor athletic events hosted by NCS member schools during preseason, league and section championship events. NCS member schools may not host outdoor contests when the AQI is equal to or greater than 151.”
In keeping with these sources of information and guidance, BUSD schools are directed in the following way:
For today, October 28:
Out of an abundance of caution, and in keeping with the most timely measures of air quality for the Berkeley area, recess and PE should take place indoors today at all BUSD schools.
Sports practice may proceed this afternoon, but coaches are advised to restrict activities that require vigorous exertion.
As a final note, BUSD is issuing N95 masks to employees who work outside; additional information about masks for other employees will follow shortly. Please also note that medical professionals advise that masks are not effective for students; instead, students should remain indoors when air quality conditions require it.
Thank you for your attention to this advisory.
Brent Stephens, Ed.D.
October 10 Town Hall Meeting to Discuss BUSD March 2020 Ballot Measures
September 30, 2019
Parents and guardians, students, BUSD staff and the Berkeley community are encouraged to attend an October 10 Town Hall Meeting to discuss three ballot measures, including a new measure aimed at recruitment and retention of teachers, which the BUSD Board may approve for the March 2020 election.
The first reading of the proposed new measure language will occur at the November 6 Board meeting, followed by a second reading and a Motion for approval at the November 20 Board meeting. This positions the District to submit the Measures for the December deadline.
What: Community engagement Town Hall meeting regarding BUSD 2020 Ballot Measures.
When: October 10, 2019 at 6:00 p.m.
Where: Auditorium at Longfellow Middle School: 1500 Derby St., Berkeley
About the Measures
Measure H: Maintenance Parcel Tax (up for renewal)
Measure I: Facilities Bond
New Measure: Educator Recruitment and Retention Parcel Tax
Your feedback regarding these ballot Measures is important.
Brent Stephens, Ed.D.
Welcome Back! Berkeley Optimistic!
August 26, 2019
Welcome Back! Let’s have a wonderful 2019-2020 school year together!
On behalf of Berkeley Unified School District Board of Education and every member of the BUSD team, please accept my best wishes for a successful school year.
As a student, I loved the energy of the new school year. It seemed like a moment for renewed friendships, fresh starts, and new learning experiences. At the beginning of the year, everything seems full of promise. My message to our students: As you start the school year, enjoy this time of the year, lay a strong foundation for the coming months, and feel confident that your hard work and positive attitude will pay off!
Parents, guardians, and caregivers – welcome back to you as well. We value your partnership, caring, and many contributions to the health of our schools. Thank you!
To our educators, I hope you’ve had a wonderful summer, whether you were away or continued to work in our schools. We appreciate that you’ve been thinking all summer long about the coming schools, making plans, and resting up. The work you do to guide our young people is an invaluable service to the Berkeley community. Please know that you are valued and respected.
To our staff, who work in so many ways to support our classrooms, thank you and welcome back. Many of you worked all summer long, sometimes at the most intense pace of the year, to prepare for 2019-2020. This summer, you helped with renovations, cleaning, hiring, opening and closing budgets, and so much more. Thank you for these efforts – they make a real difference.
To our many supportive community partners, welcome back to you as well. BUSD is fortunate to have such a broad range of partners who care deeply about our young people.
This year also brings some new faces to our schools and central office. If you are new to Berkeley, like I am, welcome aboard. As I’ve learned, we’re joining a great team that is rightfully proud of its many accomplishments. Let’s add our energy to this wonderful community, where all are welcome and we see so many signs of commitment to equity and fairness.
My very best for a wonderful start to the 2019-2020 school year. Please take a moment to enjoy this welcome back video showing our “Berkeley Optimistic” team!
Brent Stephens, Ed.D.
¡Dar una buena acogida! Berkeley optimista!
26 de agosto, 2019
Estimados miembros de la comunidad de Berkeley Unified School District –
En nombre de la Junta de Educación del Distrito Escolar Unificado de Berkeley y de cada miembro del equipo de BUSD, acepte mis mejores deseos para un año escolar exitoso.
Hace años, me encantó la energía del nuevo año escolar. Parecía un momento para nuevas amistades, nuevos comienzos y nuevas experiencias de aprendizaje. A principios de año, todo parece estar lleno de promesas. Mi mensaje para nuestros estudiantes: Al comenzar el año escolar, disfruten esta época del año, establezcan una base sólida para los próximos meses y confíen en que su trabajo y actitud positiva valdrán la pena
Padres, tutores y cuidadores: bienvenidos también a ustedes. Valoramos su colaboración, amor y muchas contribuciones al bienestar de nuestras escuelas. ¡Gracias!
Para nuestros educadores, espero que hayan tenido un verano maravilloso, ya sea que hayan estado fuera del trabajo o continuaron trabajando en nuestras escuelas. Apreciamos que usted haya pensado todo el verano en el próximo año escolar, haciendo planes y descansando. El trabajo que realiza para guiar a nuestros jóvenes es un servicio invaluable para la comunidad de Berkeley. Por favor sepa que usted es valorado y respetado.
A nuestro personal, que trabaja de muchas maneras para apoyar el salón de clases, gracias y bienvenidos de nuevo. Muchos de ustedes trabajaron durante todo el verano, a veces al ritmo más intenso, para prepararse para 2019-2020. Este verano, ayudó con renovaciones, limpieza, contratación, apertura y cierre de presupuestos, y mucho más. Gracias por estos esfuerzos porque hacen una verdadera diferencia.
A nuestros socios comunitarios, bienvenidos también a ustedes. BUSD tiene la suerte de tener una gama tan amplia de socios que se preocupan profundamente por nuestros jóvenes.
Este año también trae algunas caras nuevas a nuestras escuelas y oficinas centrales. Si eres nuevo en Berkeley, como yo, bienvenido. Como he aprendido, nos unimos a un gran equipo que está orgulloso de sus muchos logros. Agreguemos nuestra energía a una comunidad maravillosa, donde todos son bienvenidos y vemos muchas señales de compromiso con la equidad y la equidad.
Mis más sinceros deseos para un maravilloso comienzo del año escolar 2019-2020. ¡Tómese un momento para disfrutar de este video de bienvenida que muestra a nuestro equipo “Berkeley Optimistic”!
Brent Stephens, Ed.D.