Berkeley parents rally to support reopening elementary schools

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Frustration over the slow pace of reopening for elementary schools came to a head in Berkeley on Saturday morning with a rally in front of City Hall.

Although the Berkeley Unified School District was given permission from health officials to reopen its elementary schools in October, the district determined that its schools weren’t ready to resume in-person learning just yet.

Dr. Jeanne Noble, a parent and UCSF physician, spoke during the rally, saying that with proper safety measures in place it can be safe to reopen classrooms.

"Teachers and the education decision makers need to realize that masks and social distancing are on par with the effectiveness of the upcoming vaccines." She believes that "the state needs to mandate school opening."

Connecticut, November 2020
Photo credit John Moore/Getty Images

The rallying parents hope that the district will take its chance to open schools once county COVID-19 numbers allow it again.

"School is the essential business of childhood," explained Dr. Nobel.

She and many parents believe the district has been missing key opportunities.

"We need to communicate to our school leaders," Dr. Noble added "that we have the tools in our hands right now prevent the transmission of COVID."

District officials said there’s still more work to be done to get schools ready, including securing more tests for school staff. Superintendent Brent Stephens told KCBS Radio the goal is to be ready to reopen elementary grades in January.

"So I see far more agreement between the district and the parent protesters than disagreement," Stephens said.

Officials have pointed out that limited reopening has already taken place.

Other parents still oppose reopening.