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Berkeley parents calling for schools to reopen

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BERKELEY, Calif. (KRON) — Frustrated parents are calling on the Berkeley Unified School District to be ready to let their students return to class as soon as the public health officer says it is safe to do so.

Distance learning is a cause of growing frustration for some parents of students in the Berkeley Unified School District. Over 300-parents have signed a petition calling on the reopening of Berkeley public schools.

“We need to work together and understand each other and move forward to what I believe is the common goal of teaching and learning in person,” Jamila Dunn said.

Dunn is a parent of a 7-year-old student. She describes what concerns her most about her child’s distance learning experience.

“It’s so frustrating! Not to mention the fact that what my kid needs the most is to learn how to interact with other kids,” Dunn said. “I’m actually less worried about him academically than I am socially. At this point, he is reluctant to leave the house. That’s not normal.”

Since the beginning of the pandemic, outside of a select number of elementary students receiving in-person support for distance learning, the vast majority of Berkeley students have not returned to the classroom. Even though some parents say the opportunity was there back in October when the city was in a less restrictive tier for COVID-19.

Antoine Saliou’s son Augustine describes what he misses most about being in the classroom.

“I miss all of my friends and I really want to meet my second grade teacher,” he said.

For their perspective, the union that represents Berkeley teachers sent KRON4 a statement that read, in part:

“We absolutely respect the rallying parents’ advocacy for their own children. But we also hear from a large number of other parents who are reluctant to send their children to school in person. BFT and BUSD have agreed on a staff testing plan, but there is no plan in place for student testing, which BFT views as an essential component of safely reopening schools.”

We reached to the school district and the mayor’s office for statements. we received no reply.

On Saturday, Berkeley parents will gather for a “Reopen our Schools” rally beginning at 10 a.m. at MLK Park.

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