The Berkeley Federation of Teachers (BFT) and Berkeley Unified School District (BUSD) have reached a tentative agreement for schools to return after teachers are vaccinated, and established a timeline to do so this school year.
The agreement, which comes in the middle of ongoing negotiations, states that preschool, transitional kindergarten, and K-2 will return to school on March 29, grades 3-9 on April 12, and 10-12 on April 19.
Although the agreement has yet to be ratified, it marks a monumental milestone in BUSD, where schools have remained closed since last March.
The agreement comes after BFT’s recent proposal, allowing teachers to return to in-person instruction once vaccinated. Although vaccination is a strong deciding factor in the agreement, it also states that even if vaccinations are not complete, the reopening plan could commence five days after the district enters the orange tier — less than four COVID-19 cases a day, per 100,000 people.
The entire timeline for reopening could also be shifted forwards or backwards slightly, depending on the speed at which the city distributes vaccines to teachers. As the city of Berkeley has recently begun the process of vaccinating teachers who are already teaching in person, other educators will likely be soon to follow.
The agreement also resolves previously contentious issues such as student testing.
One decision that has yet to be made is that of the hybrid learning plan for all grade levels, although the district has narrowed it down to two options for primary schools, and recently surveyed families about their preferences.
Aside from negotiations, the district must complete a few other tasks to ready itself for hybrid instruction, such as training teachers and students for in-person instruction and allowing time for classroom set-up, but Superintendent Brent Stephens does not anticipate these to take very long.
Update: This article was corrected to fix the dates of reopening for each grade.