BUSD admin, staff respond to COVID-19 cases at BHS


Correction: This article has been edited to correct information that has now been verified.  

The Berkeley Unified School District COVID-19 dashboard shows that in December 2022, 91 cases of COVID-19 were reported at BHS. These numbers do not include cases that were reported during winter break. In January, 22 cases have been reported so far at BHS. BUSD administrators issued an email on how they plan to move forward.

Universal Ninth Grade (U9) English teacher Morgan Tigerman feels that while BUSD has provided regular updates about COVID-19 cases at BHS, protocol for outbreaks has been lacking from the district and administrators. 

“The school does need a policy that pretty much states, ‘If the numbers get over a certain amount in a brief period of time, that we need to address it by doing A,B,C, and D,’” Tigerman said.

Tigerman also addressed the need for messaging around COVID-19 classroom precautions from BHS or the district. “It would be responsible for the school and just public institutions in general to have policies… or reminders being sent to teachers about ventilating the rooms, (and) about ensuring the air purifiers are running.”

Cole Khan, a freshman at BHS, spoke about the experience in classrooms as a student. According to him, “it kind of depends on the teacher.” Khan added that responses and protocols varied between classes. Khan also mentioned that the recent surge felt unsurprising due to the proximity to winter break. 

Khan added that COVID-19 cases feel less surprising now that time has passed. He expressed that he feels almost desensitized to it because of how long COVID-19 has been around. 

“The first time there was a big difference, but sooner or later we just got used to it,” Khan said.

U9 Ethnic Studies teacher Hugo Ríos explained how responses have changed as time passed. 

“Especially as a history teacher, I’ve noticed with pandemics in the past (that) eventually pandemic fatigue … could become a factor (and) people just get tired of all the COVID protocols in place.” Ríos said. “And so I feel like a lot more people have been letting their guard down, whether that’s not wearing their masks as often or maintaining social distancing.”

BUSD’s email on COVID-19 said that exposure notices would no longer be sent for the duration of the surge. According to Tigerman, “If we have a direct exposure, meaning a student (who tested positive for COVID-19) was in our classroom, we receive an email with the dates the student was in the room.”

Ríos found parts of BUSD’s response helpful.

“I think historically they have done a good job on that, in general just giving us information on supplies that are readily available,” Ríos said. “Whether that’s hand sanitizer or masks. Also giving us an update on COVID cases throughout each school.”

Tigerman also commented on how the district has been making supplies accessible for teachers and students. 

“When there were mask mandates, they were supplied … And I think there is still access to the supplies,” Tigerman said. “I think we have a lot of responsibility and I think we (teachers) have a lot of power to help navigate and minimize the surges.”