What Reopenings Mean for Bay Area Schools

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Now that the Bay Area is back in the purple tier, many parents and students want to know what it will take for schools to reopen. 

The Governor says he hopes to see kindergarteners through second graders return to the classroom as early as next month– and then phase in other grades through the spring. 

“I would not go back to school, I think that I would be way too anxious with people not social distancing, not wearing their masks,” said Berkeley High School junior Rosie Bultman. “Even if I’m completely asymptomatic and spread it, there is a chance that I could really compromise someone’s health by being irresponsible and I can’t live with myself for doing that.”

Her message, along with Saru Jayaraman, an Oakland mother of two, is that they shouldn’t force schools to reopen until it’s absolutely safe to do so.

“I am terrified for my children, maybe even more so now that there are new variants,” Jayaramn said. 

With Alameda County back in the purple tier, a few youth sports are back on the table. Those low-contact sports include golf, swimming, diving, tennis and track and field. 

“I would be ecstatic if the track season could start,” said Bultman. “Last year, in my sophomore season I got to do one meet and then everything was canceled.”

While she’s embraced online learning, Bultman says some of her classmates are struggling with the isolation of being stuck at home. 

“People’s friends groups are shrinking and a lot of people are dealing with more severe depression right now,” she said.

Newsom wants to spend $2 billion to incentivize districts to welcome back the youngest elementary school students and those with special needs, starting next month. The plan also addresses concerns raised by teachers, including money for cleaning, PPE and regular COVID testing for staff and students. 

“As much of a priority as reopening is, it cannot be done in the wrong way,” said Jayaraman.

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