March 25, 2020
Dear Berkeley Unified Community,
I write today with some difficult, unwelcome, but not unexpected 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 to the community 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 children and each other. Here are some of the resources we have found most helpful:
Support for Sheltering in Place