Berkeley Unified School District
K-12 COVID-19 Safety Plan
2022-2023 School Year
Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services Plan
Updated March 15, 2023
El Plan de Seguridad COVID 2022-2023 está disponible en español aquí.
IMPORTANT ISOLATION NEWS
Beginning on March 13, COVID-19 isolation can end on day 6 if someone no longer has symptoms or symptoms are mild and improving AND no fever in the prior 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication. There will no longer be the requirement to test to return on day 6.
CDC COVID-19 Community Level for Alameda County: Low
August 3, 2022
Dear BUSD Students, Families, and Staff,
Welcome to the 2022-2023 school year! Please take some time to familiarize yourself with the District’s COVID-19 Safety Plan below. Be assured that while we will continue to work as a community to lower the risk of COVID-19 transmission in our schools this year, we are also committed to returning to as many “pre-covid” practices as possible, including field trips, open houses and school events, parent/caregiver school volunteers, and on-campus parent/caregiver drop off and pick up. Families will receive more details about how this works at their student’s school from their principals.
BUSD will continue to follow the COVID-19 K-12 Guidance for Public Schools, which was issued by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) on June 30, 2022. This guidance asks districts to manage COVID-19 in a “sustainable and adaptive manner.” We will review and respond to all updated guidance, as appropriate, throughout the school year. The District will continue to make critical COVID-19 decisions in collaboration with our Public Health partners at the City of Berkeley and follow Public Health Orders from the City of Berkeley and CDPH.
The new guidance to schools lists these COVID-19 risk mitigation strategies in order of priority.
- Staying Up-to-Date on Vaccinations
- Optimizing Indoor Air Quality
- Using Facemasks
- Getting Tested for COVID-19
- Maintaining Clean Hands
- Managing Individuals with Symptoms
- Reporting COVID-19 disease burden to local health authorities
- Managing Students Diagnosed with COVID-19
- Managing Students Exposed to COVID-19
- Managing COVID-19 Outbreaks
- Cleaning Facilities
The most significant change this year is the move to Over the Counter(OTC) testing, or what BUSD called “at-home testing” during the prior school year, as our primary method of testing in 2022-23. Also of note, the State is no longer recommending routine surveillance testing of all students and staff, unless in a high transmission period. During lower transmission periods, the State is recommending “Response Testing,” which is when districts prioritize testing for individuals with symptoms, exposures, those included in an outbreak, as well as other individuals who may be at a higher risk.
Thank you for your ongoing patience and kindness as we work together to keep our schools safe and our students learning in person during the fourth school year impacted by COVID-19. While I know we will face challenges, I’m confident that COVID-19 will not be central to our work this year. We have the tools, skills, and resources to mitigate its impact, strengthened by our high vaccination rates, district-wide participation in testing, and a strong adherence to our protocols to screen for symptoms and stay home when ill. It is this–our collective effort to keep our community safe and our students in their classrooms–that makes me so hopeful about the school year ahead of us!
Enikia Ford Morthel
KEY RISK MITIGATION PROTOCOLS: 2022-2023 SCHOOL YEAR
“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 2022-23 COVID-19 K-12 Guidance for Public Schools
August 3, 2022 COVID-19 update presented to the Board of Education
COVID-19 Prevention Program (CPP) for 2022-2023 School Year
CDC Tool To Check Transmission Tier By County
BUSD COVID-19 Protocols Webinar for Families
Families may view this recorded webinar to learn more about the district’s COVID-19 safety protocols. This will be especially helpful to families new to the district. The PDF from this webinar can be found here. Note that this webinar reflects protocols in place at the start of the 2022-23 school year. Please refer to content in this Safety Plan for the most updated information.
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.
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 2022-23 Air Quality Response Plan
During “high” CDC COVID-19 community levels, indoor masking will be strongly recommended at all BUSD schools and facilities. 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 contact should mask for ten days after their last exposure to a case.
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 available in the COVID-19 Public Health Guidance for K–12 Schools to Support Safe In-Person Learning, 2022–2023 School Year, BUSD adopts this Testing Framework for K–12 Schools for the 2022–2023 School Year as a testing plan to meet this requirement.
A Shift To Over The Counter (OTC) At Home Testing
This year, the State recommends the distribution of Over the Counter (OTC) antigen test kits to students and staff as the district’s primary testing strategy. Antigen tests provide results in 15-30 minutes. 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.
Response Testing During Low and Medium Community Levels
This year, the State is not recommending districts offer routine weekly surveillance testing to all students and staff during low or medium community COVID-19 levels, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). During medium and low community levels, BUSD will offer “Response Testing,” prioritizing tests for students and staff with symptoms, close contacts, contact to outbreaks, and other high-activity-risk students and staff.
Surveillance Testing During High COVID-19 Community Levels
Surveillance testing is when larger populations at our schools, regardless of their exposure to a COVID-19 case or whether they have symptoms, are offered testing on a frequent basis, generally weekly. During “high” community levels, BUSD intends to continue making weekly tests available to students and staff, as practicable.
Primary Health Recorded COVID -19 Tests, 2022-2023 School Year
|August 15-31, 2022||40||1283|
|Period||Testing Strategy||CDC Community Level|
Free Tests Available from the USPS
The United States Postal Service has re-initiated test distribution, and each household is able to order four (4) free COVID tests. Tests will start shipping the week of December 19th and the order form can be found here.
Understanding the level of COVID in our school community helps the district prepare for testing and contact tracing operations. We rely on parents/caregivers and staff members to upload their OTC test results to Primary Health
Update Primary Health Registration
If you were registered in Primary Health during the 2021-22 school year, you should have received an email asking you to update your registration for the 2022-23 school year.
- You can update your registration now by going to: my.primary.health/appointment_recoveries.
- If you are not registered for COVID-19 testing in Primary Health, you can register here.
Instructions for Uploading Test Results
Click on this link to sign into your Primary Health Account. After signing in, it will prompt you to upload your test results.
Please click on the links below for specific instructions for logging your OTC test results in Primary Health.
CDPH OTC Testing Instructions
CDPH (Spanish) OTC Testing Instruction
Primary Health Introduces New App for Uploading At-Home Test Results
All at-home test results should continue to be uploaded in Primary Health. We are pleased to share that Primary Health now has an app that makes uploading test results even simpler than before. Please review this video for detailed directions on how to download and register on the Primary Health app. If you are not registered in Primary Health, you can register here.
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. Signage around schools will reinforce this messaging and 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 90 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. 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.
Public Health Reporting Requirements
During an outbreak, BUSD will report case and close contact information to Public Health. We will also provide a daily (Monday – Friday) report of cases for each work site to City of Berkeley Public Health.
What is the definition of a 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.
Close Contacts Should Mask And Test
All close contacts should test for COVID-19 3-5 days after exposure and students should wear a well-fitting mask for 10 days. Staff members must wear a mask for this 10-day period.
STUDENT CLOSE CONTACTS
Parent/caregiver notifications will be determined by capacity and case rates. In some instances, per CDPH guidelines, the district will provide school wide notifications that encourage all students to test for COVID. In other instances individual notifications will occur. Students who are identified as close contacts should mask for ten days after the exposure. When we have identified an outbreak parents/caregivers will receive a close contact outbreak notification.
STAFF CLOSE CONTACTS
BUSD will follow Cal/OSHA notification requirements for staff who are exposed to COVID-19 cases at BUSD, including direction notification of exposures, case notifications to all sites, and outbreak notifications to the exposed staff members and all staff members at a facility. Employees who are close contacts must mask at work for ten days after the exposure.
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.
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. Beginning on March 13, 2023, 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.
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 and Staff
After ending isolation, confirmed s 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
CPP Plan for Staff: The COVID-19 Prevention Program for Berkeley Unified School District 2022-2023 School Year can be found at this link.
Supplemental Paid Sick Leave for Staff: 2022 COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave expired on December 31, 2022. If an employee began taking this leave starting before December 31,2022, the employee can finish taking the amount of 2022 COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave they are entitled to receive.