Berkeley Teachers Demand Online Learning as Back-to-School Debate Continues

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This summer break has been anything but restful for teachers who are wondering what the fall is going to look like. In Berkeley, teachers are taking part in a caravan protest to demand that all fall classes shift online.

“We need to get covid under control first and then we can reunite in person with our beloved students,” said kindergarten teacher Hannah Margulis-Kessel.

It’s just one month until Margulis-Kessel can meet her new class of 5-year-olds. The question is – will she ever meet them in person or will every interaction be through a screen? 

“We need to get contact tracing, we need to get free testing before we can see our students again in person,” said Margulis-Kessel.

She is praising Berkeley Superintendent Brent Stephens who announced Monday that he’s recommending to the school board that students return to online learning in the fall. He called the decision “heartbreaking” but said with COVID-19 cases on the rise in Alameda County, it’s the responsible thing to do. 

This despite the White House’s push to get kids back in the classroom in the fall. 

“If we get the virus under better control, clearly kids can get back to school safely,” said Admiral Brett Giroir from White House Virus Task Force.

Margulis-Kessel said she thinks they’re going to reopen “prematurely and have to shut down again.

Seven-year-old Savannah Evans said she’s gotten the hang of online learning. 

“Want me to tell you some of the apps? Spelling City, Mobymax, Epic, and Seesaw.

But no laptop or tablet can replace seeing her favorite teachers in the flesh. 

“Yeah I really miss them a lot!” she said.

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