May 20, 2020
A+ News
Emerson Elementary School’s staff began their May 14 virtual open house for incoming and current families with this message to the school community.
Recent Community Message from Superintendent Stephens
On everyone’s mind is the question of what the fall of 2020 will look like. While there is a lot that we do not know, I do want to share that given the likelihood that we will not have a vaccine or herd immunity to COVID-19 in the next few months, school in the fall of 2020 will not look like the school in the fall of 2019. 
As you probably know, Governor Newsom introduced a “roadmap” to modifying the State Stay-at-Home Order   after a long period of closure, which included 6 indicators for readiness to reopen, including:
  • the ability to test, contact trace, isolate, and support the exposed;
  • the ability to protect those at high risk for COVID-19;
  • ensure capacity for hospital and health systems, and develop therapeutics to meet the demand.
Governor Newsom’s indicators for re-opening also include a component that affects our schools directly, which is the ability to support physical distancing on campus.

I want you to know that, as we plan for the Fall of 2020:
  • We will keep student, staff and family well-being at the core of our planning;
  • Plans will include both distance (at-home) learning and on-campus learning possibilities;
  • Until the pandemic subsides, if our facilities are used, fewer students will be on campus at a time;
  • We must keep equity at the center of decision-making; 
  • We need to build in flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances; 
  • Severe budget cuts are likely to be a reality that will affect our options.

Drive-Through Cap & Gown Pickup Kicks off Graduation Season for Seniors; Virtual Graduation Ceremony on June 12
In an important moment to begin to honor the many achievements of our graduating seniors, more than 650 high school seniors kicked off their graduation season on May 15 with a drive-through event to pick up caps and gowns, Class of 2020 lawn signs and posters, and diploma covers (diplomas will be mailed out over the summer). In an atmosphere that was fun and celebratory, if not a bit unusual, staff and parent volunteers lined the sidewalk near the Milvia Street entrance to Berkeley High School, operating stations from which seniors received their gear.

Students, and the occasional parent or caregiver who did the pickup run, had their pictures taken in their cars. Volunteers, who donned masks and gloves for the event, clapped and cheered for the students as they delivered materials via open passenger-side windows.

Next up for seniors is a virtual graduation to be broadcast at 5:30 pm on June 12. Students, who will wear their cap, gown and tassel, can personalize the experience with uploaded content. The virtual graduation will be uploaded to YouTube.

"While of course this isn't the big celebration we wish we could throw on behalf of our seniors, we are so proud of them and hope they felt our enthusiasm today," said Erin Schweng, outgoing Berkeley High School Principal. "I was so happy to see our students driving up and hear the cheers all around, and I'm thankful for all the volunteer work that went into making Friday a celebration of the class of 2020."
The City of Berkeley congratulated students
with a large sign on Milvia Street. (Photo: Mark Coplan)
Graduating Senior Teo Surasky displays his diploma cover at the May 15 drive-through event.
Volunteers, like this one handing out diploma covers, kept the event fun for the Class of 2020.
May 13 Town Hall Addresses Two Critical Questions; Additional Town Hall Meetings for Parents of Children of African Descent (PCAD) and Spanish Language Scheduled
More than 300 community members participated in the May 13 Town Hall meeting featuring Superintendent Stephens and members of the Executive Cabinet. The meeting focused on two key questions using the ThoughtExchange platform so participants could share ideas and rate the importance of ideas shared by other meeting attendees:

  1. Distance Learning will have to be part of the plan for 2020-21. What are your thoughts about ways to sustain students, staff and families for a longer period of time?
  2. Students’ time on campus may be very limited in 2020-2021. What thoughts do you have about the best ways to use our school facilities to support children and families?
This word cloud represents thoughts Town Hall participants had about the best ways to use school facilities in the fall.
The May 13th Town Hall meeting can be viewed here. The Town Hall presentation slides can be found here.

Upcoming Town Hall Meetings
  • Affinity Group Town Hall hosted by Parents of Children of African Descent (PCAD): May 26, 6:30 - 8:00 pm at this Zoom link.
  • Spanish Language Town Hall: May 28, 6:30 - 7:30 pm at this Zoom link.
26 BUSD Students Honored at African American Student Achievement & Excellence Awards
On April 25, 26 BUSD students were honored at the 16th Annual African American Student Achievement & Excellence Awards (AASAE Awards). Among the students honored in this year's virtual award ceremony was Willard Middle School 8th grader Raniyah Cole who was a strong leader in the school's Black Student Union (BSU) and also took on math tutoring for her classmates in addition to improving her own skills. “To have won this award for cultural leadership meant a lot, because I try to lead by example, and help my peers,” said Award winner Raniyah Cole.“ 

Created to encourage African American students and families to strive and achieve, the theme for the awards, held virtually this year due to the COVID-19 emergency, was "Building a Brilliant, Resilient, and Strong College-Going Community.” 

"Raniyah has been dedicated to making sure that BSU is welcome to anyone who faces inequality no matter the race," said Amanda Hall-Jackson Faculty Advisor for Willard's Black Student Union. Willard Principal Debbie Dean explained that Raniyah's leadership especially stood out in 8th grade when she began leading her peers to increased academic performance. “Raniyah was a strong leader in our Black Student Union and showed others how to be strong advocates and leaders in the campus."
" Finding my voice has been one of my biggest achievements," said Willard Middle School award winner Raniyah Cole, who hopes to play softball at Berkeley High School next year.
The AASAE awards were hosted by the African American Regional Educational Alliances (AAREA) in partnership with Chabot College.
Raniyah is looking forward to attending Berkeley High School and walking the same halls her parents once did. She has missed her friends during the Shelter-in-Place, but was " proud of everyone who won awards" as she watched the ASSAE Awards event.
Student Uncovers Math Mistake On State COVID-19 Sign
Cruz Foster, a 6th grade student at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School, has a keen eye for detail. When King teacher Laura Kretschmar sent a copy of a California Health and Human Services social distancing sign to her students and asked them to find the mistake, Cruz was up for the challenge. He found the flaw in the math.

" I saw that the poster was wrong by realizing that if the diagonals are 6 feet, then the side lengths are automatically shorter than 6 feet, and then worked backwards from there using geometry to fix it," said 6th grade student Cruz Foster. Cruz wrote to California Health and Human Services to inform them of the error and supported his calculation: "This explanation uses the Pythagorean theorem, which states that a2 + b2 = c2. So, c=6, and 62=36. So, a2 should be 18, but √18 is actually shorter than 6 ft."

Laura Kretschmar noted that Cruz loves a challenge. “This problem and challenge to redesign this poster was a perfect intersection of his love of math, art, and design. He also has an eye for detail and catching mistakes, including mine, for which I am ever grateful!”

Cruz’s mother, Teresa Aguirre, praised Kretschmar. “It was a clever way to tie curriculum to the current situation, and a creative way to engage her students," she wrote in an email to the District.

Cruz is enjoying the schedule flexibility of distance learning these days and having the option to work on subjects when he is in the mood for them. He especially enjoys the "in-class" Kahoot games. Cruz understand mistakes are inevitable. "It's impossible to be flawless," Cruz wrote in an email to the District. "So when I see a mistake, I try not to just get upset at the person who made it (or myself), and instead I try to correct it, fix it, help it, and learn from it.” 
Cruz’s poster redesign has now been forwarded to Dr. Mark Ghaly, California’s Secretary of Health and Human Services. Read more about Cruz in this recent Berkeleyside story .
6th grade student Cruz Foster caught a math mistake on a State social distancing poster. (Photo: Teresa Aguirre)
Cruz used the Pythagorean theorem to show that the social distancing poster was incorrect.
Teacher Laura Kretschmar conducting a distance learning lesson with her improvised soup can doc camera. (Photo: Todd Diedrich)
A "Warm Line" Supports Mental Health Services for BHS Students
As a result of school closure and shelter in place restrictions due to COVID-19, Berkeley High School Health Center is now operating a Mental Health Warm Line to support Berkeley High School (BHS) and Berkeley Technology Academy (BTA) students, families, teachers, and staff. The Warm Line provides emotional support, psychoeducation, consultation, referrals, and other general information during the BUSD school closure.
The Warm Line is a phone-based mental health resource provided by the BHS Health Center to support Berkeley High School (BHS) and Berkeley Technology Academy (BTA) students, families, and teachers by providing emotional support, psychoeducation, consultation, referrals, and other general information during the BUSD school closure.
The Warm Line operates:
Monday - Friday, 11:30 am until 4:00 pm.
Phone number: 510-981-5240

The Warm Line helps with:
  • Processing feelings related to COVID-19 pandemic and shelter in place restrictions;
  • Support for anxiety, depression, stress, and other mental health needs;
  • Connection with ongoing mental health services and/or community resources;
  • Information about mental health and coping skills;
  • Consultation for parents, families, teachers, and school administrators.
Red Cross Blood Drive at Berkeley High School: June 17
The American Red Cross faces blood shortages due to an unprecedented number of blood drive cancellations during this coronavirus outbreak. Healthy individuals are needed to donate and help patients counting on lifesaving blood.

Drive Details:
Site: Berkeley High School, Donahue Gym (Milvia & Bancroft)
Date: Wed., June 17, 2020
Time: 09:00 AM - 03:00 PM

V  isit and enter sponsor code: Berkeley

From the Red Cross: Donating blood is a safe process and people should not hesitate to give or receive blood. But, please postpone your donation for 28 days following travel to China and its special administrative regions, Hong Kong and Macau, as well as Iran, Italy and South Korea, or if you’ve been diagnosed with or have had contact with anyone with a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19.
On the morning of your appointment, streamline your donation experience and save up to 15 minutes by visiting this website to complete your pre-donation reading and health history questions on the day of your appointment.

If you have questions regarding your eligibility to donate blood, please call 1-866-236-3276.
Disaster Relief Assistance for Immigrants (DRAI) Impacted By COVID-19
The Disaster Relief Assistance for Immigrants (DRAI) project is a one-time state-funded disaster relief assistance for undocumented adult immigrants impacted by COVID-19. An undocumented adult who qualifies can receive $500 in direct assistance, with a maximum of $1000 in assistance per household. 
Starting May 18th, if you are eligible to apply for this assistance, you may seek assistance with the nonprofit organization(s) assigned to your county of residency. Individuals will only be allowed to receive DRAI application assistance from nonprofit organizations assigned to their county or region. The nonprofit organization will help you fill out an application and confirm your eligibility.

Ed Hub's New Location; Berkeley Public Schools Fund Kicks off Book Drive
The Berkeley Public Schools Fund will be accepting high quality books for elementary students in new or very gently used condition at BUSD's NEW Ed Hub location at the Berkeley Adult School (BAS), entering at the 1700 block of Curtis Street . See this map for driving directions .

Book donations (please in paper bags only), which began on May 18th, can be received on M/W/F on the following schedule: Mondays 12:00-2:00 pm, Wednesdays 3:30-5:30 pm, and Fridays 12:00-2:00 pm.

After a week-long quarantine, books will be sorted, leveled, and bagged by BUSD literacy coaches & librarians and distributed via volunteers at the Ed Hub to any families wanting books at home.
Berkeley Arts Magnet Literacy Coach Cara Eisenberg and Malcolm X RTI Joal Arvanigian volunteered at the Book Drive at Berkeley Adult School on May 18.
Enter the Ed Hub on the 1700 block of Curtis St.
Get Counted In Census 2020
All households should have received Census Bureau mail with detailed information on how to respond to the 2020 Census. The U.S. census is a count that is conducted every 10 years of all the people living in the United States. Census data determines congressional representation and guides how more than $675 billion in federal funding is distributed for schools, healthcare facilities, roads and transportation, recreation centers, social services, and much more. Due to the COVID-19 financial crisis, getting counted is even more important now.

The Census Bureau is bound by Title 13 of the U.S. Code and cannot release any identifiable information about you, your home, or your business, even to law enforcement agencies.

BUSD is working to support Census 2020, including promoting the Census in our school community and this week providing Census 2020 information bags with pens, coloring books, and Census directions to meal distribution sites.

You can complete your Census by returning the paper questionnaire you received in the mail, or by completing the questionnaire online here .

Toll Free Help:
For help in other languages visit this website.

Additional Information
This sign in support of Census 2020 can be found on the fence at Tim Moellering Field.
Free Census 2020 coloring books are available for download.
8th grade volunteer Ciara McDermott delivers Census 2020 bags to the meal distribution site at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School.
Events and Meetings Online
School Board Meetings
May 20, 2020, 7:00 pm
May 27, 2020, 7:00 pm

All Board meetings are now held via Zoom. Details on our webpage .

School board meeting agendas/materials are posted at least 72 hours before meetings on the School Board Meeting Information page of our website.
SBAC Meeting Details >
May 19, 2020 3:00 - 5:00 pm
Zoom Meeting

PAC Meeting  |  Details >
May 21, 2020  6:00 pm - 7:30 pm 
Zoom Meeting