Berkeley Unified School District
TK-12 COVID-19 Safety Plan
2023-2024 School Year
Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services Plan
Updated September 21, 2023
KEY RISK MITIGATION PROTOCOLS: 2023-2024 SCHOOL YEAR
BUSD will continue to follow public health K-12 guidance for COVID-19 risk mitigation during the 2023-2024 school year. We encourage parents/caregivers and staff to read through this plan and become familiar with the district’s safety protocols. This plan will be updated during the school year, especially when/if public health guidance changes.
“COVID-19 is here to stay, but we have learned methods and gained tools to decrease its impact on our health and well-being. California’s schools can manage this disease in sustainable and adaptive manners.”
-California Department of Public Health, June 30, 2022
CDPH recommends that all eligible individuals get vaccinated against COVID-19 and remain up-to-date with recommended boosters. All individuals ages 6 months and older are now eligible for COVID-19 vaccines. Vaccines and boosters can also be obtained through healthcare providers and at pharmacies. Please visit the City of Berkeley COVID-19 vaccine webpage for information about vaccination opportunities.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommends the newly-authorized 2023-2024 monovalent COVID-19 vaccines for everyone age 6 months and older, to help protect them against severe COVID-19 illness this fall and winter.
BUSD will continue to follow CDPH recommendations to improve indoor air quality to mitigate against COVID-19 in K-12 schools.
To increase the circulation of outdoor air, classroom windows will be opened when practicable. All classrooms are equipped with a MERV 17 HEPA Air Purification Unit. Additionally, filter upgrade work for poor air quality index levels has been completed on existing HVAC systems to include MERV 13 filtration. Air quality monitoring systems have been installed in all classrooms, common areas, and offices to monitor temperature, humidity, CO2 levels, and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).
The District will ensure ventilation systems operate properly and increase fresh outdoor air circulation as much as possible in all classrooms and shared workspaces. All working spaces shall use any combination of mechanical ventilation, natural ventilation, and HEPA air purifiers, as the individual room characteristics dictate, to provide adequate air exchanges.
The District shall ensure all HVAC systems operate on the mode which delivers the most frequent air exchanges per hour, including disabling demand-controlled ventilation, and open outdoor air dampers to the maximum extent as indoor and outdoor conditions safely permit. Air filters shall be MERV-13 where systems can accommodate, and changed at the recommended intervals. Portables and/or other rooms without HVAC or means of natural ventilation shall be equipped with low noise HEPA air filters with a large enough capacity and flow rate for the square footage of the room.
During poor air quality days, per guidance from the City of Berkeley Public Health Department, and considering local COVID 19 epidemiologic factors, we will:
- Encourage and make available, as practicable, higher quality face masks (e.g., N95, KN95, or KF94 respirators)
- When practicable, use alternative spaces with better air quality as learning locations.
- Employ air filtration strategies that do not rely on outdoor air sources (e.g., close doors and windows and use portable air cleaners).
For more information, please review BUSD’s 2023-24 Air Quality Response Plan
The District will have masks available for any student or staff seeking one. BUSD will follow any CDPH or City of Berkeley Public Health masking order. All close contacts should mask for ten days after their last exposure to a case and all cases should mask for 10 days. Staff are required to mask for ten days after having COVID-19 and for 10 days after a close contact.
BUSD Adopts CDPH Testing Framework for 2022-23 School Year
Per SB 1479, which is effective on January 1, 2023 and requires each LEA to create a COVID-19 testing plan that is consistent with CDPH guidance, BUSD Adopts the testing guidance in the CDPH Public Health Guidance for K-12 Schools and Child Care Settings to Support Safe In-Person Services and Mitigate the Spread of Communicable Diseases, 2023-2024 as a testing plan to meet this requirement.
- CDPH recommends the distribution of Over the Counter (OTC) antigen test kits to students and staff, and particularly for vulnerable communities, as the district’s primary testing strategy. These tests would almost always be taken at home by students, with parent/caregiver help. Most tests are not approved for children under age 14 or 15 to self test. Staff may test at work or at home, at their discretion.
- Testing should be considered when engaging in activities that might result in high-risk exposures (e.g., large gatherings, travel). Such activities may occur more often during major breaks from school (e.g., summer, winter, spring).
CDPH Guidance – What To Do When You Test Positive for COVID-19
To view CDPH guidance with information about what to do after testing positive for COVID-19, please, click here.
This CDPH guidance is also available in the following languages:
Most at-home tests have extensions past the dates printed on the box. CDPH recommends using at-home tests before their extended expiration dates. Click this link to access FDA-authorized at-home OTC COVID-19 diagnostic tests, including information on expiration dates, who can use the test, and other details that may help you decide what test is right for you.
As of June 26, 2023, the district is no longer using Primary Health for uploads of student/staff positive/negative COVID-19 test results.
When A Students Is Positive For COVID-19
Parents/caregivers may report their student’s case by filling out this BUSD Student COVID-19 Case Reporting Form.
When A Staff Member Is Positive For COVID-19
Staff may report their COVID-19 case by filling out the BUSD Staff COVID-19 Case Reporting Form.
Alternatively, parents/caregivers or staff who are unable to fill out a Case Reporting Form can report a COVID-19 case by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include the following in your email:
- Positive Individual’s Full Name
- School Site / Work Site
- Date Symptoms Started
- Date Tested
- Last Day At School/Work
CDPH provides information about free COVID-19 treatment at this link. Treatments work best when taken within 5-7 days of when symptoms begin.
Students and staff will be encouraged to follow important health and hygiene practices including to wash hands frequently and to use hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available. Teachers of young students will teach hand washing routines as the school year begins.
The district will ensure that hand sanitizer is ethyl alcohol-based and that children under age 9 only use hand sanitizer under adult supervision.
Every elementary school classroom was upgraded to include a touchless faucet. Every classroom in the District, as well as all common areas, have touchless hand sanitizer dispensers.
The following will be made available:
Every room with a sink shall be stocked with soap, hand sanitizer, and paper towels.
Every classroom shall be provided hand sanitizer.
Hand sanitizer stations shall be provided at each ingress and egress point.
Soap, hand sanitizer, and paper towel supplies will be actively monitored by all staff in any space where students or staff are working.
All persons with COVID-19 symptoms, regardless of vaccination status or previous infection, should:
Self-isolate, wear a well-fitting mask, and test as soon as possible to determine infection status. Students and staff can use any available testing method. For symptomatic persons who have tested positive within the previous 30 days, using an antigen test is preferred.
If the Test is Negative:
You may return to BUSD with a negative test result, improving symptoms and after having been fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever reducing medicine. If symptoms persist, consider continuing self-isolation and retesting with an antigen or PCR test in 1-2 days if testing negative with an antigen test, particularly if tested during the first 1-2 days of symptoms.
BUSD’s Case Response Team will follow all guidance relative to reporting cases to our local health jurisdiction, the City of Berkeley Health Department.
Close Contact: An individual who spent more than a cumulative total of 15 minutes (within a 24-hour time period) in a shared indoor airspace (e.g. classroom) with someone with COVID-19 during their infectious period, regardless of face coverings
Infectious Period: Two days before testing positive if no symptoms or two days before symptoms began.
Close Contacts Should Mask And Test
When aware of a close contact, close contacts should test for COVID-19 3-5 days after exposure.
- Students who are close contacts should wear a well-fitting mask for 10 days.
- Staff who are close contacts must wear a well-fitting mask for 10 days.
If symptoms develop, please see symptom instructions above.
Per California Department of Public Health (CDPH) guidance, parents/caregivers will not receive routine close contact notifications during the 2023-2024 school year. BUSD will consider providing a general notification to the entire school community when many in the community may currently have COVID-19 and be infectious to others. This communication can alert all to the increased potential of being exposed to COVID-19 due to a rise in cases among school and community members, and remind all to monitor for symptoms and get tested.
BUSD will continue to follow Cal/OSHA notification requirements for staff who are exposed to COVID-19 cases at BUSD, including direct notification of exposures, case notifications to all sites, and outbreak notifications to the exposed staff members and all staff members at a facility.
CDPH Outbreak definition: At least three COVID-19 cases within a 7-day period among people who are epidemiologically linked in the setting, and are not known to be close contact of each other in any other case investigation.
Cal/OSHA Outbreak definition: three or more COVID-19 cases among employees in an “exposed group” within a 7-day period*
Cal/OSHA Major Outbreak definition: 20 or more COVID-19 cases in an “exposed group” within a 30-day period
A person who tests positive for COVID-19 or has a positive diagnosis from a licensed health care provider is considered a COVID-19 case.
All students and staff who test positive for COVID-19 must isolate at home through at least Day 5. Day zero is the day the case’s symptoms began or the day they took a COVID-19 test if they did not have symptoms.
Isolation is defined as the separation of those infected with a contagious disease from people who are not infected.
Students and staff positive for COVID-19 can return to school/work on or after Day 6 when:
- Their symptoms are gone or mild and improving AND
- They have not had a fever in 24 hours and have not used fever-reducing medication.
Note that there is no longer a requirement to test negative in order to return.
Everyone who tests positive for COVID-19 should wear a well-fitting mask for 10 days.
Testing Negative Over 2 Days Shortens 10-Day Masking Period For Students
After ending isolation, confirmed student cases may remove their mask sooner than Day 10 if they have two sequential negative COVID tests at least one day apart. If an antigen test result is positive, the person should continue wearing a mask and wait at least one day before taking another test.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION FOR BUSD STAFF
Supplemental Paid Sick Leave for Staff: 2022 COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave expired on December 31, 2022.