BERKELEY (CBS SF) – The Berkeley Unified School District approved plans to allow in-person learning for a limited number of elementary school students facing learning challenges. Meanwhile, a broader reopening would not begin until December at the earliest.

On Wednesday night, the Board of Education voted 5-1 to approve Phase One and Phase One-B of the district’s reopening plan. The board delayed a vote on Phase Two, which has a target date of December 2 to reopen elementary schools, saying they wanted to hear more from families and staff at an upcoming board meeting scheduled for October 21.

Berkeley Unified announced that the board could also decide not to reopen elementary schools until January, after winter break. Current health orders do not allow for middle and high school students to resume in-person learning, the district said.

Under Phase One, cohorts of no larger than eight students and two staff members would be allowed at some schools, with a target start date of October 26. Staff would be tested for COVID-19 and risk mitigation practices would be in place.

Phase One-B would begin on November 9, with cohort size increasing to 14 students, with two staff members.

“These small, prioritized student cohorts will allow students facing considerable learning challenges to have the support they need to overcome the learning gaps they’ve experienced during distance learning,” Superintendent Brent Stephens said in a statement.

According to the district’s Elementary School Reopening Readiness Dashboard, several steps have been completed including acquiring cleaning supplies, face coverings and installing plexiglass barriers at front offices. Meanwhile, other steps such as site specific plans for schools, installing air purifiers, and arrival and departure procedures remain in the works.

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