BSD Board Meeting Works on Plans for Remainder of School Year


Amelia Karp

Superintendent Dennis McDavid speaking at board meeting

The past few weeks for the Berkley School District have been quite eventful, as they have been focused on determining the daily life of every Berkley School student, teacher, and parent for the remainder of the year. As everyone knows, the Berkley School District decided that the safest and best option for the community was to start off the 2020-21 school year fully virtual. But for some age groups, the district is aiming to bring them back to in-person learning as soon as possible. After extreme thought and countless hours, the district created an “Extended COVID-19 Learning Plan Update.” After sending out a draft of the plan on Oct. 13 to the Berkley Schools community, and holding two meetings on the 15th and 19th, the finalized COVID-19 learning plan has been approved by the Berkley School District’s board of education and was officially sent out to the community on the 20th. However, as of Nov. 3, the plan has changed. Originally, elementary school students were going to be allowed to attend in-person schooling starting Nov. 9. However, since then, the Oakland County Health Division has changed the in-person school rating from a “C” rating down to an “E.” Unfortunately, “E” is the highest risk rating on the chart, so for now, returning to school on Nov. 9 has been put on hold.

Although the plan is not being carried out as soon as administrators had hoped, it will hopefully be implemented in the future if COVID cases are low enough. What exactly does this plan seek to carry out? Though the plan impacts every member of the community in some way, the plan mainly affects the elementary schools and students with individualized access programs. Because elementary school students have less COVID-19 outbreaks than middle and high school students in general, they are set to go back to in-person school first. Since data shows that there are significantly more cases in 14-18 year olds than 5-9 year olds, this is the safest option. Also, it is believed that this age group learns more effectively with in-person learning.

Before Oakland County was given an “E” rating for in-person instruction, the plan was to have elementary students be given the opportunity to attend in-person school for half a day on all five days of the week. When the plan is eventually put in place, students will be broken up alphabetically, either attending school in the morning or afternoon. The morning students will go to school from 8:15-11:00 a.m. while the afternoon students will go from 12:30-3:15 p.m. The classrooms are to be sanitized between class sessions.

Students will also be socially distant from one another, as each desk will be 3-6 feet apart, and tables will have plexiglass shield separators. The kids will also be required to sit in the same seat every day to make contact tracing easier. And of course, mask wearing is required at all times in every area of the building besides at mealtime.

If parents decide that in-person school is not the right route to take for their children, they can choose to have them carry on with virtual learning. With attending the ‘Elementary Online Academy’, school will continue to be taught through Schoology and Zoom, and the days will be split in half by last name just like in-person school.

As for middle and high school students, the district is continuing to plan for their return. However, there is no definite date as it is much more difficult to plan for compared to elementary school. Originally, the plan was for “secondary students to remain in their virtual environment through first semester.” But Berkley School’s Board of Education decided to change this to, “secondary students will return as soon as the District has a feasible plan and is ready for secondary students to return.” This change reflects the district’s determination to bring the secondary students back to in-person as soon as it is safe. When the time comes, they will have the ability to choose to return to in-person or continue with virtual learning.

The process of approving the plan involved two board meetings with the Berkley School District Board of Education. These meetings were open to the public, and were broadcasted live as well. The first meeting that took place on the 15th was just under three hours long, and consisted of presenting the plan in its entirety, as well as board members asking questions. The tentative plan was read aloud by superintendent Dennis McDavid and other administrators. The second meeting on the 19th was approximately 50 minutes. The first 15 minutes of the meeting were spent with members of the community expressing their opinion on the plan. The remainder of the meeting was used to allow board members to comment on their stance on the plan. The meeting concluded with a vote from the board, deciding whether or not they should approve the plan. Ultimately, the board approved the plan with a 6-1 vote.

Because of the lowered “E” rating, there is no longer a definite date of when elementary will return. The board has unanimously passed the motion that stated, “[I] move to pause implementation of the plan that was approved at [our] the October 19 meeting until Oakland County Health Division can report a “D” or safer risk level and the Superintendent is ready to safely implement the plan.” Until then, everyone in the district will remain online, as it is believed to be the safest and best option for our community.