BSV Updates: Shutdown Week 1

Paraphrasing the Superintendent’s own words, ‘BUSD turned itself upside down in a matter of 5 days or so’ in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. And the Berkeley Public Schools Fund, too, is in the thick of it. We are busy repositioning our programs and organizational resources quickly but calmly in order to serve the students and families most affected by this crisis here in Berkeley.

With the “Shelter in Place” Order by the City of Berkeley, we were collectively presented with yet another round of challenges. And yet there are still several ways you can help out! (Read on).

In the meantime, please use this time of physical isolation to build up your social cohesion. Call a friend, check on a neighbor, email an old colleague. Now, strangely, is the best time for community.

We will plan to update you weekly but as always please reach out if you need anything.

Stay safe and be well,

Duffy & Team BSV


Volunteer with the Berkeley Food Network –   Exempted by the “Shelter in Place” Order!

The Berkeley Food Network is looking for healthy individuals who can help out in this time of increased need. Demand for food, amidst school closures and job loss, is mounting. Further, many of their regular volunteers are no longer able to help out. This volunteer activity is exempted from the current City of Berkeley “Shelter in Place” Order  (see 10.f.iv. and 10.h.ii)

The Berkeley Food Network is taking extra precautions for volunteer safety and has a plan in place to minimize contact while increasing their already strong sanitation protocols.

Please sign up for a shift if you are able.  And share this post!

Donate to the Support Berkeley Students & Families in Crisis

Students and families affected by the COVID-19 crisis need your help. We will be working with the BUSD Office of Family Engagement & Equity, the BUSD Homeless Outreach Program and the District administration to identify needs and to direct services to students and families. Support could include groceries, emergency housing assistance, books, access to technology and other emergency needs that will help stabilize families and students during this crisis.

Please donate HERE to support students and families in greatest need

Stay Connected to Berkeley Schools Volunteers

BSV’s response is evolving, reflecting the changing circumstances in our community. Please continue to check our COVID-19 Response webpage updates on how you can help.

Last week, ahead of the full “shelter in place” order, BSV strongly urged all volunteers 60 years and older to curb volunteer activities and stay at home. Your responses were quick, thoughtful, and (characteristically) full of heart. We share some snippits of these communications below:

  • These are difficult days, but it will be an opportunity to learn more about our community and our response to a common crisis.

  • I will suspend my volunteering with great regret.  To be taken back up at a later time.

  • I’m going to miss all the kids I work with, as well as those two great teachers!

  • I am learning so much, and even being a bit helpful.

  • As soon as we are able, I would like to return to the classroom, because I will miss those kids and our reading time together!

  • I am so sad, I can hardly stand it. I enjoy the children. I learn a lot and have fun.

  • I really love the class and Ms. Abramo, but it is for the good of everyone. Thank you for being so on top of this.

  • Thanks for being on top of this- let me know if there’s some help that can be accomplished at home.  It’s nerve wracking to wait for the onslaught to hit us!

  • Thank you for the updates and your concern.  I hope things get back to normal soon.

  • I guess the prudent thing to do is stop going.  It breaks my heart because I am so enjoying it and have developed wonderful relationships with the teachers and the students.  I will miss them and will hope this doesn’t last too long.

  • I’ll miss those kids!

During this time of challenge, BUSD teachers offer up their gratitude to their volunteers.

Elementary Volunteers

Jeff Angell works with one student consistently (particularly in writing) to ensure that all of his thoughts/ideas are captured on paper and that his creativity has a chance to shine, since he is not currently able to write on his own. I appreciate Jeff’s calm presence, his willingness to help any student with anything, and his general personality.

– Yorda Weldeghiorgis, John Muir Elementary

From day one, Alexia Wagner-Inman has worked with my most challenging group of 3rd graders…She instantly won them over when she told them she’s a Cal athlete and knows a thing or two about sports. Try as they do to spark up conversations, she always maneuvers them back towards the tasks at hand. They run to work with her when she comes into the room and are very excited about writing, because they get to share it with her.

-Wendy Whiting, Washington Elementary

Middle School Volunteers

Kyoko Nakamoto brings new opportunities for a student with moderate/severe disabilities to begin engaging in social interactions with both genders with modelling conversations…This had previously been shut down for the student.

– Eriksen Allen, King Middle School

At the King Middle School Library, WE LOVE CHRISTINE Wenrich and all the dedicated help she brings to us twice each week.  We would have a very hard time without her aid, and we look forward to seeing her again when this urgency has passed.

-Amielle Zemach, King Middle School Library

High School Volunteers

David Fane has been a wonderful helper in my classroom. The days he comes to help I notice I am less tired at the end of the day.  He is professional, positive, skilled, and kind.

– Masha Albrecht, Berkeley High Math

Xanthe Berry brings another adult presence and a valuable perspective on life and literature. She is already building relationships with young writers that will bear fruit should this school year continue. I hope that she can contribute further to some of our most needy students, especially those who would benefit from seeing another African American in the classroom…

-Alan Miller, Berkeley High English & African American Studies

Adult School Volunteers

I am so lucky to have Sue Londerville assisting in my acting class for adult ESL students!  Sue is totally reliable, sensitive to the needs of English language learners, and creative in her work with them. She works independently with subgroups of my students on complicated activities such as rehearsing short plays.  In addition, she leads ingenious exercises for the whole class that raise group energy and cohesiveness.  I couldn’t have run my classes without her, and I hope to continue to have her help!

– Gary Green, Berkeley Adult School


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