reopening the bay area

Berkeley Schools Set to Reopen to Small Group of Students

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Berkeley is giving middle schools and high schools the thumbs up to reopen Monday, but only if schools have a COVID-19 safety plan. 

But several school officials say it’s too soon to reopen, because the holidays are just around the corner and kids could be exposed to the virus at family gatherings. 

Malcolm X Elementary is one of three elementary schools in Berkeley that will reopen to a small group of students hand-picked because they were having a hard time keeping up with distance learning. 

As far as opening all elementary schools to all student grades, the district says that likely won’t happen until the end of January. 

At Jefferson Elementary in Berkeley, still no kids. But staff prepared to welcome a select group of students back to school on Monday. 

“We’ve designed this special program just for students who are struggling right now with distance learning,” said Berkeley Unified School District Superintendent Brent Stephens.

Those 75 students, from various elementary school grades, will get one-on-one help with online learning and will enjoy a taste of recess. 

“We’re excited to welcome them back,” said Stephens.  

For those wondering when the district will welcome all elementary students back, you’ll have to wait until 2021. Jan. 13 is the target date when the district hopes to welcome students from pre-k through 2nd Grade. The next week, 3rd graders through 5th graders could return. The district says there’s still no target date set for middle school and high school students. 

Over at Saint Mary’s College High School, a Catholic school where half the student body returns to campus twice a week.

“We’re probably not going to go back until the middle of January,” said Principal Pete Imperial, adding that with Thanksgiving and Christmas just around the corner – the risk is too high. 

“Families are going to be traveling around the country, they’re going to be mixing,” he said.  

As schools shift to reopen next year, the lesson for both students and parents is patience. 

“We’re looking to do this so no one can trace a COVID infection back to school,” said Imperial.

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