WHO WE ARE
We are Berkeley Unified School District parents advocating to open our schools for live, in-person instruction. Our diverse group is united around the importance of in-person education for our children and the broader community.
DISTANCE LEARNING IS FAILING US
Exacerbated racial and class segregation between schools
Increased the achievement gap
Triggered enormous learning loss that translates to higher dropout rates, lower lifetime earnings, and reduced life expectancy
Sparked steep increases in adolescent mental health crises - including suicidal ideation and cutting
Caused sharp decreases in child abuse reporting
Prompted a general erosion of the physical health and mental well-being of students glued to screens
The damage wrought by remote learning outweighs the risk of re-opening.
We support appropriate safety measures and exceptions for students, teachers, and staff for whom the risk of returning is, in fact, too risky.
However, schools are not the super-spreader sites they were feared to be. “To date, we’ve seen very, very little transmission in school settings,” reports Dr. Sara Cody, Santa Clara County Health Officer.
Teachers, too, have little cause for concern. In Marin County Schools, from early September through early December, there were over 415,000 “student days” and just two cases of “suspected” COVID transmission. Both were staff to staff, not student to staff.
The risk of contracting COVID at school with proper precautions, according to a recent San Francisco Chronicle article, is lower than that of catching it in the community.
Dr. Jeanne Noble, chief of COVID response at UCSF, explains that the risk is no higher than the risk assumed by other essential workers, such as grocery store clerks, and is significantly lower than the risk for health care providers.
WHAT'S AT STAKE
Remote learning poses an existential threat to public education in California.
Parents with means are fleeing. Students are disappearing.
And voters are casting ballots against measures, like Proposition 15 in November, that would have brought a windfall to public education.
Support for our schools will plummet if leadership cannot provide equitable opportunities for all students. When science and health authorities say it’s safe to resume doing so (again), we must get our kids back into the classroom.
In the words of BUSD Board of Education director Laura Babitt, "Our kids can't wait".