November 3, 2020
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Emerging Stronger. Together.
Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School Students Active in the 2020 Election
The Martin Luther King Jr. Symphonic 8th Grade Band recently recorded a musical rendition of America the Beautiful in a "Go Vote" video, and with the help of their adorable family pets, they delivered an important message: Vote!

Eighth-grade musician Connor Levi-Lang hopes the Go Vote video inspires Berkeley voters to elect candidates they think will support their community. "It is a privilege to be able to vote and have power in government because many people do not have that privilege," said Mr. Levi-Lang. King student Rose Hara, who also appears in the video, believes voting is a way to be a part of the change we want to see in the world. "I hope that our country learns kindness. Kindness to others, kindness to ourselves, and kindness to the Earth," said Ms. Hara, explaining what she hopes for this country after the election.

"The Go Vote video started with my love for the song America the Beautiful," said King Symphonic and Advanced Jazz band director and video producer Nancy Boyles. She noted that while patriotic songs have lost their appeal, especially in the last four years, this song is full of positive images of what America should be. "I like to remain optimistic, which is what voting is all about," she added.

Wyatt Fortner, also appearing in the video, believes we are lucky to live in a democracy. After the election, Mr. Fortner said he hopes "we can work on some of the huge crises affecting our country."

Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School students also shared their ideas as part of the Let’s Talk About Election 2020 Youth Media Challenge hosted by KQED. The Challenge asked students to submit video or audio commentaries on issues that matter to them. Here is the list of student submitted videos.
Sirine E.'s video is about how our immigration system should be more open.
Gracie K. explains in this video that the U.S. needs to prioritize and put more investment towards fighting climate change .
October 30, 2020

Dear BUSD Community,

On October 13, the state of California adjusted the COVID-19 tier for Alameda County to orange, and this week County and City Health Officers granted permission to middle and high schools to reopen as early as November 9, provided these schools satisfy a rigorous set of safety measures. These safety measures include social distancing, face coverings, COVID-19 testing, and contact tracing, among other strategies.

This coming week, the Berkeley Board of Education will discuss these public health developments, and consider how and when to reopen our middle and high schools. 
Also at this meeting, BUSD staff will provide an update on efforts to reopen Pre-K and Elementary schools, which are targeted to open on January 13 for PK-2, and January 20 for Grades 3-5.

The Board meets at 7:00 on Wednesday, November 4, and parents and guardians are encouraged to attend.

As we move towards reopening our pre-k and elementary schools in a hybrid model, we have completed this BUSD Pre-K and Elementary School Campus Safety Plan. This comprehensive plan describes the many safety practices that Berkeley Unified will have in place for our pre-k and elementary students and staff when they return. The plan reflects a thorough reading of the most recent public health guidance, as well as extensive deliberations with the district’s labor partners and will be the structure the District uses to detail middle school and high school reopening safety steps as well. The plan will be updated as further guidance is issued from the federal, state, county, and local levels.

Please visit this link on our Berkeley Unified website to see ongoing updates to the Campus Safety Plan as well as other important information about reopening our campuses, including target dates for the phased reopening of our pre-k and elementary schools and COVID-19 student instructional videos. This page will be updated with additional information, including information about middle school and high school target reopening dates, as it becomes available.
The Pre-K and Elementary School Campus Safety Plan details new safety practices to help families and students understand what school will be like when students return to campus.
The election this week represents a significant moment for our country and for many of our students and families. Some students may experience a sense of anxiety, stress, or disappointment about the November 3rd elections. Please know that BUSD staff are available to support your child, and we encourage you or your child to reach out to a member of your community if this is the case.

My continued best wishes to you and your family.


Brent Stephens

BUSD Libraries Check Out Almost 20,000 Books in October; Book Distribution is Here!
All BUSD K-12 schools are distributing library books to their students using COVID-19 protocols. Almost 20,000 books were checked out in October. Families can pick up bags filled with library books selected for their students. Each school is on a different schedule, and most are distributing books one grade at a time. Look for announcements from your school’s library staff about where and when to pick the books up. And, of course, please wear a mask when you come by.

If you have school library books at home that need to be returned, drop them off at your school’s pickup time -- just look for the book return bin. You can return books from any school in BUSD to any school in BUSD. Returned library books are quarantined for at least 72 hours before being handled by library staff.

The Berkeley School Volunteers have been supporting these efforts, helping out with the final point of distribution. Volunteers can sign up here.

The library staff has been working incredibly hard to make this possible. We are so glad to get these books back into students’ hands!
Bags of library books awaiting pick up at Thousand Oaks School. (Photo: Jessica Lee)
Library Media Specialist Mardawn Wendt, ready to greet families at Berkeley Art Magnet Elementary School. (Photo: Eric Silverberg)
Renaming the Former Jefferson School Leads to Exciting New Curriculum
The Superintendent’s Naming Advisory Committee has sorted through all 69 unique name suggestions received for the school formerly known as Jefferson, scoring the names with reference to criteria that included: being inspiring to children, reflecting community values, increasing representation, likely to be enduring, as well as possibly reflecting local history and/or connecting to education. 
The committee’s charge was to winnow the list to select a short list of names to be incorporated into the plans for school-based learning during three weeks in late October and early November set aside for this special activity.

There were many names with compelling stories. After an initial straw poll, the committee reviewed 18 names which scored highly enough to be discussed further, and then spent two meetings working towards the choice of a diverse array of seven names that together represent many of the key criteria.

In alphabetical order, the names selected are:

Betty Reid Soskin - local activist, Rosie the Riveter park ranger

Maya Angelou - poet, author, activist (who lived in Berkeley in 70's)

Muwekma Ohlone - the name of the local indigenous people 

Ruby Bridges - courageous child, now activist, integrated school in Louisiana

Ruth Acty - trailblazer; first Black teacher in BUSD, taught for 50 years

Ruth Bader Ginsburg - Supreme Court justice, fought for gender equality

Yoshiko Uchida - Berkeley author, wrote about the Japanese-American experience 
Author Yoshiko Uchida was born in Alameda and grew up in the Berkeley schools. She and her family were incarcerated along with other Japanese-American citizens during World War II.
The Muwekma Ohlone Tribal Council granted permission for the potential use of a name recognizing the indigenous peoples of Berkeley.
Next Steps:
A committee of school teachers volunteered to prepare age-appropriate educational materials about each of the finalist names. The materials have been shared with classrooms over the past three weeks. and are posted online at the PTA website and a dedicated BUSD webpage.

During the weeks of November 2 and November 9, classrooms, staff and school families will have straw polls and focus groups to provide feedback on top choices for the Superintendent and Board to consider, before the final decision is made by the Board on December 2.
Thank you to all who so thoughtfully provided suggestions, including students, staff, families, and the wider community. We hope you enjoy learning more about the seven names!
District Committee Orientation
The District relies upon the parent, staff, and student volunteers who step up for school and District committees that play crucial roles in oversight. On October 14, the District's live Committee Orientation included an overview of the district budget, presented by Natasha Beery and Michelle Sinclair, and a presentation about the importance of community voice by Ann Callegari, Gloria Muñoz, and Carol Perez.

Recordings of these presentations, plus many other pre-recorded videos on various committee topics, are available to view any time on the District's Committee Training Webpage. Whether you serve on a School Site Committee, ELAC, an affinity group, the PTA, or a district-wide oversight committee such as P&O, PAC or DELAC, these resources are for you.

Colorful Steps and Inviting Play Structures at Oxford at West Campus
When students return to campuses for in-person instruction, Oxford students will return to the now remodeled West Campus school. Here's a peak at one new play structure and some of the colorful steps awaiting students at Oxford at West Campus.
Peace and Joy Chalk Art Festival November 5 - 7
The Peace and Joy Chalk Art Festival sounds like a great post-election, socially distanced art activity for kids. The event will be held November 5th - 7th, on Harold Way between Kittredge and Allston from 2:00 - 5:00 PM.

Students can grab squares of sidewalk or street and express themselves with colorful chalk. Families can bring their own chalk or use chalk at the event. Please wear a mask.
Schools Fund and Ed Hub Updates
The Ed Hub, which is located at the Curtis Street entrance of the Berkeley Adult School, will be closed Wednesday, November 4 and November 11.

In October, the Schools Fund approved Strategic Impact Grants totaling $46,000 for distance learning versions of the WriterCoach Connection program at Longfellow Middle School and the Be A Scientist program for all BUSD 7th graders.

Community members who have an hour or two a week to support Elementary Science, Middle School Math, High School Spanish or Special Education are invited to learn more about becoming classroom (online-distance learning) volunteers. These and other teacher requests are currently open. 
The Ed Hub recently provided these 100 desks (in boxes) to students for distance learning thanks to a donation by Panoramic Interests.
Vaccinations and Flu Shots
California Law requires all students (TK-12) attending public or private schools be vaccinated. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, students in TK-K and 7th grade must provide updated records showing vaccinations against certain infectious diseases to keep themselves, their families and their classmates safe. Schools must have a copy of each student's vaccination record on file.

"Now is a more important time than ever to prevent illness from the Flu/Influenza," said District Nurse Julia Ingoldsby to encourage families to get students vaccinated for the flu. There will be no "Shoo the Flu" Clinics on-site this year, as the Alameda County Public Health Department remains busy with COVID-19 work.
Ingoldsby advises parents and guardians to contact their child's primary care provider, or visit a CVS, Rite Aid, Safeway, or other local businesses providing flu shots. "Make sure to bring your insurance card and ID with you to these locations as they may request this prior to vaccination," Ms. Ingoldsby added. Kaiser is offering drive-through vaccinations.

Keeping Up with District News
View the October 21 School Board Meeting on BUSD's YouTube Channel.
Events and Meetings Online
School Board Meeting
November 4, 2020

All Board meetings are now held via Zoom. Details can be found 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.
Personnel Commission Meeting |  Details
November 5, 2020 4:30 - 7:00 pm

Planning and Oversight Committee Meeting (BSEP BERRA)  Details
November 10, 2020 5:00 - 6:00 pm
Board Policy Subcommittee
November 12, 2020 4:00 - 6:00 pm