There are three TBS Operating Modes for Instruction for the 2020-2021 school year. TBS K-8 will begin the school year in Mode 3.

For the 2020-21 school year, TBS has developed a blended learning plan that can shift from Mode 3 (100% home-based instruction) to a mixture of Mode 2 blended learning (campus-based and home-based instruction) to an eventual return to Mode 1 (100% campus-based instruction). Instruction in all modes will align with the mission, vision, and values of TBS: developing academic skills and life skills in a community of civic engagement.

Mode 3: 100% Home-Based Learning: No on-campus instruction takes place.

Mode 2: Blended Learning (campus-based and home-based): On-campus instruction takes place with COVID-19 risk mitigation modifications as determined by public health guidelines and staff, in consultation with the COVID-19 Committee and outside experts; home-based instruction continues.

Mode 1: On-campus instruction takes place with no need for COVID-19 modifications.

What are TBS sources of information and guidance?

The TBS board and staff are guided in decision making processes by government, public health and professional agencies including and not limited to Alameda County Public Health, the City of Berkeley, the California Department of Education, and the Centers for Disease Control. TBS parent professional consultants include Shelley Facente, TBS parent, MPH, Public Health specialist, epidemiologist, member of the UC Berkeley Safe Campus Initiative to bring UC faculty and students back safely, along with an infectious disease specialist, environmental engineer, physicians, and nurse practitioners who have continuously supported our school regarding COVID-19 since February 2020. Further professional expertise also includes legal and financial consultants.

How are you collecting and incorporating parent input?

Your feedback through surveys and input via TBS communications question buttons are the best way to continue routing your questions to our advisors and the TBS planning process.

How are you collecting teacher input during this decision-making process?

We have held two teacher town halls to gather teachers’ input and ideas and to answer their questions. Teachers were surveyed and responses went directly to the C19 committee and Board of Trustees to help inform their decision.

There are four teacher representatives (Danette Swan, Rachel Forbes, Julianne Hughes, and Loa Ortiz) meeting weekly with the K-8 Program Planning Team over the summer (Bliss Tobin, MaryBeth Ventura, and Kate Klaire) to work on scenario plans.

Does the school have guidance around family expectations and behavior?

We believe that when children internalize two truths – “People are interdependent” and “My actions make a difference for other people”– they are on a lifelong path to meaningful civic engagement. And we believe that there is no circumstance like a pandemic, and the need to create a culture of safety for our entire community, to bring those truths home. 

To help us establish our TBS culture of safety as a community, we will ask you about your plans for fall and your public health habits. We aim to create a program to support COVID-19 prevention practices and continue our school’s investment in a community culture that prioritizes making choices that benefit and make positive change in our community. 

Some initial thinking includes asking families to be back in the local area 14-days prior to the start of Mode 2 on-campus instruction when that is possible, current vaccines, practicing physical distancing, fidelity to your social bubble, and mask wearing when outside the home. Our plans will, by necessity, continue to evolve. Thank you for your partnership as we build on our school culture of belonging with a culture of safety regarding the pandemic.

What if my student struggled significantly with distance learning this spring?

Much of our planning for 2020-21 home-based learning is with the students and families who struggled in mind. We believe that planning for individual student needs and equity benefits all students. In reviewing our plan as described in the first question, you’ll see that high-touch and support of social-emotional learning and executive functioning is a priority.

When on-campus instruction resumes under COVID-19 conditions, how many days per week could students be on campus?

Given the risk mitigation modification required for campus-based learning at this time, our current plan is for all K-5 students to be on campus 4 days per week and for middle school students to be on campus 5 out of every 10 days (for example, M/W and every other Friday or T/Th and every other Friday) and engaging in home-based learning the days they are not on campus. Friday is a half day for all middle school students. The public health situation is ever-changing. We are prepared to adjust campus-based plans to meet risk mitigation requirements and recommendations.

How will it work for students who are 100% online? What will the experience be like if some things are in person and the student is missing that? Will they be behind and will they still feel like they are a part of the class?

We will continue to use Seesaw (K-3) and Google Classroom (4-8) as our primary platforms for our blended learning program, whether students are campus-based or home-based. This means that oftentimes, students at home and on-campus will be accessing the same work and activities via these platforms.

We have invested in technology – classroom cameras and headsets – that will allow students at home to participate in some of the on-campus activities and instruction. The amount will differ by grade level and activities for remote participation will be carefully planned by teachers. We are piloting the technology now and learning from east coast schools who have been using classroom cameras for summer instruction.

Will my child be academically behind next year?

On the one hand, the entire world has slowed to some degree during this pandemic. On the other hand, the lessons in our distance learning mode provide rich experiences, and ask students to adapt to new challenges, of which we know they are capable.

Reach out for Technical Support

If you family is in need of any technical support during Distance Learning mode, please reach out to us by email.

Home-Based 2020-21 Start for K-8 Students

On July 27, given the Governor’s updated guidelines for K-12 schools, and the extremely low probability that the public health situation will improve before fall instruction begins on September 2nd, the TBS Board of Trustees made the decision to begin the 2020-2021 school year in 100% home-based learning. TBS has prepared for this exceptional home-based program since we launched our distance learning plan in March. 

The K-8 program will operate in Mode 3: 100% home-based learning (see below) through at least October 9, and the board will review this decision every few weeks as public health guidance is updated.

We know that regular, targeted communication helps all of us feel seen, supported, and connected as a community.  To that end, when TBS is operating in home-based learning mode, we’ll send regular commuunications to let you know about any crucial “need to know” information, celebrate and appreciate the way(s) our students, teachers, and families are learning and supporting each other and the greater community, and point you towards resources that might help you navigate these uncertain times more effectively.

7.28.20 (UAC)

Dear K-8 Families,

Given the Governor’s updated guidelines for K-12 schools, and the extremely low probability that the public health situation will improve before fall instruction begins on September 2nd, the TBS Board of Trustees has made the decision all K-8 students will begin the 2020-2021 school year in home-based learning.

TBS has prepared for this excellent home-based program since we launched our first distance learning plan in March 2020. We are planning for the K-8 program to operate in this mode through at least October 9, and the board will review this decision every few weeks as public health guidance is updated.

This decision allows teachers, administrators, families, and students to continue planning for a strong start to the school year and chart a course for an eventual return to on-campus instruction that will minimize excess risk, align with public health conditions, and adhere to state and local guidance. We are committed to living our mission and nurturing our community of civic engagement wherever we are learning. 

Message from our Board Chair Katie Lederer: 

Our family is committed to TBS – not because of its beautiful campuses, but because of the amazing and dedicated teachers, staff members, and administrators who care for our children. Without them, our campuses are just empty shells. Our people are our most valuable assets and we must take care of them.

In the midst of this pandemic, we have to consider not only the health, safety and well-being of our students, but of all TBS employees who make educating our students possible. We need to take care of the entire ecosystem, and all constituents need to be seen and supported as part of our reopening plans.

Planning Update:

While the world has changed drastically, children’s needs have not and teachers at TBS know what children need, even as we engage this changing world. A significant change from last spring’s shelter-in-place distance learning is reflective of our typical TBS mindset: making meaning of a difficult experience, incorporating feedback from all community members, and proactively planning for each individual to be seen and supported in our new reality.

Teacher representatives in Elementary and Middle School divisions have voluntarily joined the Program Planning Team, contributing to plan development during summer vacation break.

There are three Operating Modes for Instruction. TBS K-8 will begin the school year in Mode 3.

  • Mode 3: 100% Home-based learning: No on-campus instruction takes place.
  • Mode 2: Blended Learning: On-campus instruction takes place, with COVID-19 risk mitigation modifications as determined by staff and reviewed by TBS Board C19 Committee, for students who are able to attend; home-based learning continues.
  • Mode 1: On-campus instruction takes place with no need for C19 oversight.

When we are ready to move into Mode 2 and begin on-campus instruction, families can anticipate and plan for:

  • K-5: 4 days per week on-campus instruction
  • MS: 5 out of 10 days on-campus instruction (for example, M/W and every other Friday or T/Th and every other Friday). Friday is a half day for all middle school students.

Answers to FAQs:

Please reference this FAQ for information to date. We understand that this is a complex and challenging time for all of us – students, staff, faculty, and families alike. We are working to share school planning as swiftly and regularly as possible to support family planning amidst this time of uncertainty.

Remember, this pandemic will end one day. Today, you and your family, new and returning, are essential members of the TBS community, and we believe engaging this changing world together through this year’s TBS experience will bring us all strength and community. 

TBS Culture of Safety:

To help establish our TBS culture of safety as a community, we will ask you about your plans for fall and your public health habits so that we can create a program to support COVID-19 prevention practices. Some initial thinking includes asking families to be back in the local area 14 days prior to the start of Mode 2 on-campus instruction when that is possible, current vaccine status, practicing physical distancing, fidelity to your social bubble, maintaining physical distance and mask wearing when outside the home. Your feedback is important. Thank you for your partnership.

Our plans will, by necessity, continue to evolve. We continue to invest in a robust home-based experience – both the academic program and student engagement – to ensure our students can have a connected, meaningful TBS experience wherever they are learning. Our shared journey through these difficult times will make us stronger — together. 

Take care,


7.28.20 (ECC)

Dear Early Childhood Families, 

I’m reaching out today to make sure that you have the most accurate and current information about the on-campus program that we are planning to operate when the school year begins in September.

Classrooms and Cohorts

Current public health guidelines and the size of our classroom spaces mean that we could begin the year with a maximum of 75 students on campus. The actual number of students will depend on each family’s decision.

Three classroom spaces will be configured as follows:

  • 1 cohort of 8 children in Mariposa – the Explorers transitional kindergarten classroom (with 1 teacher)

  • 1 cohort of 12 children in Eugenia (with 2 teachers)

  • 1 cohort of 12 children in Live Oak (with 2 teachers)

Depending on enrollment, two other classroom spaces will be configured as follows:

  • 1 cohort of 12 children in Cedar (with 2 teachers) – could be 2 cohorts of up to 10 children with 3 teachers if sufficient enrollment exists

  • 1 cohort of 12 children in Magnolia (with 2 teachers) – could be 2 cohorts of up to 12 children with 3 teachers if sufficient enrollment exists

We will be able to determine exact cohort/classroom scenarios once each family has chosen an enrollment option by the end of day on Wednesday, July 29. We will make any and all class placements with as much thought to maximizing connection, and minimizing excess risk, as possible.

Some folks may have wondered why our cohort sizes for the school year are larger (10-12) than they were during our summer session. While public health guidelines specify cohorts of up to 12, we wanted to develop and practice protocols for working with multiple cohorts on campus at the same time – implementing elements like staggered arrival and dismissal, separating areas of the playground, coordinating indoor/outdoor time, and rotating toys and materials. So we divided 12 students into 2 “pods” of 6. We learned a great deal, including that larger (and fewer) cohorts allow children to connect with more friends and use the outdoor spaces more freely. And since we also learned that ECC students can wear masks and do their best to follow other health and safety guidelines, we believe larger cohorts are better for children’s learning and growth.


We are working with teachers to determine classroom and program staffing, based on enrollment and each staff member’s personal situation. We are also excited that our home-based learning program will have a lead teacher who will be working directly with students who are starting the year in home-based learning as well as with classroom teaching teams to ensure a strong home-based learning program for any students who need to spend time off-campus over the course of the school year. 

Daily Schedule

Until we know how many families are choosing the campus-based option to begin the year, we aren’t able to say exactly how much time children will spend outdoors. Our cohort sizes mean that if we have 4 cohorts on campus, children could spend virtually all of their time in the 4 campus outdoor areas where children can safely spread out. If there are 7 cohorts (the most we could have), then children could spend a little more than half of their time outdoors, rotating through the 4 spaces over the course of the day.

Social and Physical Distancing Within Cohorts

We have been assured that young children within a cohort do not have to be kept separate, so while we will encourage children to spread out, we will not require that they maintain a physical distance of 6 feet. We will certainly prevent mixing between cohorts, but children this age need to be able to play and interact with each other and teachers. 

Shelter In Place Orders and Essential Workers

If a shelter-in-place order were to go into effect and childcare were only permitted for children of essential workers, we would plan to run a program if we had at least 12 children who qualified and enough staff members who were willing and able to work with them. When we surveyed families last May about this, we did not have enough interest.

Health & Safety

We are using the guidelines for symptoms and screening indicated by the Alameda County Public Health Department HERE. These guidelines give specific details about what happens when a member of a cohort becomes ill, and how and when children can come back to campus. We are required to keep medical information private, but encourage families to reach out to each other within a cohort if they want to share information voluntarily. 

Every morning, families and staff will answer the screening questions HERE. Public health authorities have not instructed us to exclude families or staff from our campus who have traveled elsewhere at this time: we only record this information in the screening questions in case it is necessary to do contact tracing. 

With the 1pm summer program we disinfect frequently touched surfaces, like play structures, tricycles, doorknobs, the climbing wall, and tables twice when children are on campus, during snack and lunch. At the end of the day, we disinfect all toys and materials children touch, and all high-touch surfaces, floors, chairs, etc. are professionally cleaned at the end of the day. To keep bathroom spaces clean, teachers currently wipe down the toilets, toilet handle, and sink handles after each child uses the bathroom. There is a professional cleaning of bathrooms each evening. We would increase cleaning and disinfection accordingly for 3pm and 6pm programs.

All adults who come into contact with children must read through our health and safety materials, watch an hour-long training video on our specific protocols, and are tested for COVID-19.   

As always, the health and safety of our students, teachers, staff and families is at the center of our planning. I hope that by providing more clarity on our policies and procedures, you can make a more informed decision about whether to enroll your child for on-campus learning this fall, choose home-based learning, or take a sabbatical until 2021.

Take care,


5.22.20 (UAC)

Dear 2020-21 UAC Families –

Since our campuses closed in March, our teachers have continued to carry out our mission – igniting curious minds, awakening generous hearts, and engaging the changing world in which our students are finishing the 2019-20 school year. Simultaneously, our leadership has been focused on understanding the opportunities and challenges ahead and charting a path for 2020-21 that leverages our school’s size, educational expertise, and responsive professional culture to ensure continuity of instruction and an eventual return to campus-based learning for TBS students. Today, I’m excited to share more information about those plans.

Please take some time to read through our re-entry plan, linked below. In it, you’ll learn about our intention to shift from distance learning to a blended learning program – a combination of on- and off-campus instruction that will be maximally responsive to diverse and emergent student, family, and school needs as community health conditions and public health guidance evolve. 

Please read and review our 2020-21 Re-Entry Planning Guide.

Over the summer, we’ll send you updates every two weeks as we continue to plan and implement our blended learning program. We’ll be using every day to focus on what matters: giving teachers time to rest and recharge after an extremely challenging spring, implementing a longer on-ramp to the school year, readying our campuses and protocols to support a baseline health and safety expectation for students whose families wish to begin with campus-based learning, and ensuring that the first month of 2020-21 focuses on building and rebuilding relationships for students and teachers alike.

I hope this 3-day weekend is a great one for your family and that you can rest and recharge. I know our teachers will be doing that as they gear up for the last two weeks of school. We’re looking forward to finishing strong and finishing together!

Take care,

5.22.20 (ECC)

Dear 2020-21 ECC Families –

First, thank you for all of your patience and understanding as we put our plan in place for the reopening of campus. We hope this information will give you clarity and allow you and your family to make the best decisions possible. We realize each family has its own constraints and circumstances and that what we will provide may not be for everyone. Our main goal is to keep children and staff safe and healthy, and provide care for your children so they can resume a somewhat modified re-entry routine.

Please fill out this survey by Wednesday, May 27, so we can have a better idea of what your needs are this summer and in the fall. Your information will help us plan as we move forward with reopening the Early Childhood Campus. We appreciate your time.

Summer Session Planning

On June 15, the TBS administration will determine whether we can offer a five-week, on-campus, modified summer session to be held Monday, July 13 through Friday, August 14, with staggered morning hours: e.g. 8:15-12:45p, 8:30-1:00p, 8:45-1:15p, 9:00-1:30p.

Families will need to commit to the entire five weeks. This pilot program will have 2 classes of 10 children and we will use Magnolia, Cedar, and the outdoor space. We will have stable groupings of 10 students, and staff each class with the same 2 teachers and one substitute; the adults will remain the same for the entire session to comply with current public health regulations.

In preparation for a decision to conduct a summer session, registration will open June 1 for returning families. TBS would give first priority to children of essential workers, followed by children with one parenting adult whose eligibility for childcare is not limited by public health orders in place when the session begins (Alameda County Public Health SIP Order). If there is space remaining, we will accept registrations from other returning families through June 8, and decisions will be made as equitably as possible.

We know that acclimating new students to a new environment is challenging under any circumstances, and these circumstances are especially so. With that in mind, only returning early childhood students will be able to attend the on-campus pilot summer session. Younger siblings who are new to the TBS campus will also need to wait for the fall session.

Summer Session Health Protocols

Required by CA Department of Social Services (CDSS)

  • Each morning you will drop off your child at the gate, their temperature will be taken, and you will answer several health related questions. 

  • Parenting adults will not be allowed on campus. 

  • Drop off and pick up will be staggered to ensure social distancing between families.

  • Teachers will wear masks, but children do not have to. We are looking for volunteers to make masks that have clear panels to see facial expressions.

  • We will rotate a stable, single group of 5 children inside and outside so all children will have the benefit of both learning and play environments. We will rotate children through different areas of the yard as a group and spend as much time as we can outside.

  • Tubs of soapy and clean water will be maintained and dispersed throughout campus and each child will wash hands frequently, at least once an hour.

  • A sick room will be available in the event that any child or adult becomes symptomatic. We are required to send home any child or adult with a fever and/or respiratory infection symptoms.

  • We will provide a healthy snack using protocols outlined by the CDSS. Students will need to bring a simple, paper bag lunch that is easy for children to eat independently. 

  • An extra change of clothes will be needed for any accidents. Children need to be independent when changing their clothes. 

Out of an abundance of caution, we will also arrange for weekly COVID-19 testing of all staff.

If a child in the on-campus program shows signs of respiratory illness and/or fever, the child will transition to a home-based learning program until medical clearance to return can be provided. If the on-campus program is closed due to an outbreak on campus or a shelter in place order, all students will transition to a home-based learning program. In either case, we would be unable to provide tuition reimbursements, since we need to be able to pay our teachers for those weeks.

Fall Session Planning

We are planning for risk-mitigation measures that will allow us to open our Early Childhood Campus for the start of the 2020-21 school year in September. We are closely following recommendations from state and local agencies and will be aligning with best practices learned from our own and other early childhood programs. New children and their families will be able to come to visit a teacher on the campus one family at a time during the summer, to help with their introduction to school.

Please read and review our 2020-21 Re-Entry Planning Guide.

We will continue to follow our practice of making financial adjustments that align with any changes to our program as we have done in this 2019-20 school year. If you have questions or concerns about your child’s enrollment contract, please contact Amy Coty, Director of Finance & Operations, to have a conversation. 

Take care,


Dear TBS Families –

Today’s message includes important updates regarding staffing and progress reports, as well as a plan to give us closure at the end of the year. 

I’d like to extend the invitation to families to join me for small group Zoom meetings this month. I look forward to these opportunities to connect us online and share our ongoing planning for this summer and next year. 

Due to the global pandemic of COVID 19, our MS 2019-20 third trimester has been in distance learning mode. The TBS faculty developed a distance learning education that meets our instructional standards and is aligned with our mission, vision, and values. We have accordingly focused this semester’s learning outcomes on the most essential skills and concepts, and refined our assessments and progress reports to best suit the limitations of distance learning. In planning our assessments, we have taken into account that not all students had an equitable experience, due to circumstances beyond their control. 

The middle school progress reports will include:

  • Fewer learning outcomes in most subject areas

  • A narrowed range of criteria ratings: 

    • Approaching Expectations

    • Meeting Expectations

    • Not Applicable*

  • A narrative that provides personalized context for how transition to distance learning may have affected a student’s learning.

*Not Applicable will be used when teachers do not have enough evidence to assess a student, due to several possible factors such as absences, inconsistent participation, not enough student work, and/or student well-being.

Take care,


Dear TBS Families –

I’d like to start today’s message with information about The Berkeley School Community Support Fund (CSF), which we first shared with everyone last week. The CSF has been established to support TBS community members who are particularly in need of help during this challenging time. 

As The Civic Engagement School, TBS pulls together as a community during times of celebration and challenge. We see and support one another and understand that Civic Engagement begins here — within our school community, with TBS families and students — whether we are on our campuses or learning and communing at a distance. In that spirit, CSF will provide financial relief for TBS families, faculty or staff members who are facing economic hardship as a result of Coronavirus. 

  • All members of TBS Community are eligible to apply: current families, faculty and staff.

  • Approved applicants will receive one-time tuition reduction available through June 30, 2020.

  • Applications will include demonstrated loss of income.

  • The Community Support Fund is administered by the TBS CSF Committee. 

  • Applicants will receive a prompt response.

  • CSF is not Individual Family Tuition (IFT).

Community Support Funds that are not disbursed by June 30, 2020, will fund the school’s highest priorities in 2020-2021 which include support for the TBS Individual Family Tuition (IFT) program and Distance Learning. Complete this brief form to apply for immediate and confidential support.

Questions about how to apply? Contact

Each year, our school builds towards May. It’s a month where our community sees, supports, and celebrates the progress and growth that results from nine months of learning together.

This May, that hasn’t changed — teachers, students, and families all want to finish strong. In the face of so much other change, I want to remind us what “strong” looks like at TBS.

Strong means seeing ourselves as clearly as possible: where we are, where we want to be, and how much distance exists between those points. Over the next four weeks, our teachers will continue to do everything possible to see students and meet them where they are right now, understand and support their emotional and physical well-being, and effectively assess their ongoing skill development. Those efforts require strength from students, teachers and families at a time when reserves are tapped. We know that – and we also know that the effort we put in over the next four weeks will ensure we can meet students where they are when we start together in September. We can do this!

Strong means knowing what outcomes matter most, understanding how we can influence those outcomes, and focusing our efforts accordingly. Aside from academic goals, two end-of-year outcomes matter most for students: connection and closure. Students need to feel connected to each other, to their classroom communities, and to the progress they’ve made. Equally important, they need to connect that progress to the effort and practice they’ve devoted to their learning. And in the midst of feeling that connection, they also need to experience positive closure: the mixture of joy and sadness that comes when you celebrate an accomplishment and simultaneously say “goodbye for now” to the people who helped you succeed. We’re working hard to reimagine end-of-year celebrations, traditions, and rites of passage to ensure that students can experience connection and closure for 2019-20. You’ll hear details about this next week from division heads and teachers on both campuses.

Strong means acknowledging challenges, responding to setbacks, adjusting expectations…and persevering towards our goals. The opportunities and challenges that arise when we engage a changing world will rarely be more visible to our children than over the next four weeks. If we acknowledge what’s hard, keep our efforts up, adjust our expectations, and keep going, our children will develop a deeper understanding of how daily effort leads to long-term progress, no matter how lumpy or nonlinear that progress may appear. 

Last week’s message ended by reminding folks that we are all connected, and that we’ll move through the rest of the year with that in mind. From the Community Support Fund to the Readathon to graduation, we are working to make sure that we finish 2019-20 strong – and that we finish together. 

Take care,


Dear TBS Families –

With yesterday’s announcement that distance learning mode will extend through the end of the 2019-20 school year, we acknowledged a hard truth: our school community’s deep desire to return to “on-campus learning mode” still far exceeds the limited civic and medical solutions currently available to keep people safe while in physical proximity to each other. 

Today, you’ll hear about that decision. Next Friday, you’ll hear from me about how we’ll finish this school year strong, including ways that we’ll collectively help students get the year-end closure and celebration that they deserve. And on subsequent Fridays, you’ll hear from me about summer planning, 2020-21, and the progress we’re making towards safely being on campus together.

Acknowledging truth has driven our progress over the last seven weeks. In late February, our administrators and faculty acknowledged the highly probable truth that distance learning mode would be required to support student learning. TBS made the early choice to shift resources towards developing a Distance Learning Plan, which we implemented on the third day of campus closures. Your partnership in systematic feedback helped us acknowledge further truths about both the successes and remaining needs for the DLP. And on Monday, our K-3 teaching teams will launch Phase 3 by transitioning teaching and learning to a platform more developmentally suited to younger students’ needs and levels of independence. 

Our progress will continue over the next five weeks. There’s so much we don’t yet know about how to keep teachers and students safe while learning in physical proximity to each other. So it would be irresponsible to speculate about an earlier start to the school year or possible summer sessions here. But please know that our board, leadership, and faculty are fully engaged in finding workable solutions to COVID-19-related challenges that will allow us to return to campuses as soon as possible – and we’ll keep you posted on our progress as we do.

We are all connected – and we will move forward with that in mind. We don’t win by getting there first – we win by getting there together.

Take care,


Dear TBS Families,

Earlier this week, seven Bay Area county health agencies announced that they would issue updated orders for residents to continue sheltering in place through May 31. With this announcement, school leadership, the COVID-19 Response Committee of the TBS Board of Trustees, and the full board have reviewed our criteria for campus closure and made the decision last night to keep TBS in distance learning mode through Thursday, June 4 – the last day of the 2019-20 school year. 
Even under these circumstances, we did not make this decision lightly. Our school’s campuses and classrooms are designed to deepen and amplify learning, connection, and belonging. We miss them. We dream daily of returning together to those spaces and to the small interactions that we once took for granted – a greeting, a quick smile, a high five, a shared laugh. And no matter how right, necessary, or obvious this decision may be, it’s difficult to declare definitively that the 2019-20 school year will end in a different, more physically distant way.
That said, making this decision means we will no longer need to continue planning for increasingly unlikely and brief return-to-campus scenarios. We can now move on and continue to devote resources to what will always matter most at TBS: student learning, engagement, and well-being. 
Our most immediate goal is to ensure that every student’s school experience over the final five weeks of the 2019-20 school year is as meaningful and engaging as possible. Simultaneously, we have been engaged in intensive planning for the 2020-21 school year: monitoring state and local developments connected to reopening school campuses, researching and preparing for potential scenarios, and integrating all that we’ve learned over the last two months into every aspect of next year’s program design. 
Challenges certainly exist as we move through the rest of this year and plan for next year. But we see significant opportunities as well. And we’re excited to capitalize on those opportunities in ways that will help students feel seen, supported, and engaged in learning.
I’m looking forward to sharing more with you about our plans for the rest of 2019-20 and for 2020-21 in tomorrow’s Friday afternoon message, and in subsequent Friday messages over the next five weeks. See you then – and best wishes for a great Thursday afternoon.
Take care,

Hi, TBS families –

Here’s today’s update – we miss you!

We hope all of you find time this weekend to relish being together as a family, to consider and surrender to the opportunities this time gives us with our children. We believe in the resilience of children, and as we all continue to navigate through this time together, let’s all do our best and know that is enough. Let’s do our best to respond to one another with kindness and understanding — and to model our ability to adapt and be responsive while prioritizing that our children always feel safe and loved. 

One Thing We Recommend Today!

We appreciate the expertise of parenting coach and educator Dana Hirt. We asked her to create these short videos for TBS parenting adults as a community resource to help all of us through current parenting challenges. Please take a few minutes to watch them.

WATCH: “Work/Child Balance” (families of ECC- 3rd grade)
WATCH: “Too Little, Too Much” (families for grades 3-8)
WATCH: “Managing Emotions” (all families)

Dana Hirt is a parenting educator and coach with over 30 years of educational psychology experience who offers parents, both new and experienced, concrete skills and personalized guidance and support. Dana has taught in the classroom, worked with students in private practice, advocated in schools, and led parent workshops. She holds a Master’s Degree in Education in Human Development and Learning from DePaul University and The Institute for Psychoanalysis, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Education and Psychology from Brown University. TBS families are invited to follow Dana’s blog or on Instagram.

We hope your weekends are great. And we look forward to learning and growing together next week!

Take care,



Hi, TBS families –

Here’s today’s update – we miss you!

One Thing To Know Today!

Your feedback makes a difference! After two weeks of daily emails from me, you said “Thanks for the consistency: can you decrease the frequency?” – and we heard you. Starting this week, in addition to regular communication from teachers and division heads, you’ll receive one email from me each Friday afternoon with updates and information to get you ready for the upcoming week. 

And speaking of feedback that makes a difference – don’t forget to respond to the Phase 2 Distance Learning survey(s) that came to your inboxes as part of my message last Friday afternoon. You can also find them here!



One Thing To Celebrate & Appreciate Today!

Wednesday is Earth Day – and on Friday, April 24 at 2:30P,  we’ll be hosting an all-school Zoom assembly to celebrate and honor the Earth and our interdependency. 

Click here for Earth Day Assembly Zoom link.

Hope all of you are having a great Monday and looking forward to being together again with you!

Take care,


Hi, TBS families –

Here’s the daily update for Friday, April 17. It was great to see (and feel) so many students and family members during the assembly today…and that good feeling also makes us miss you even more. We can’t wait to be together again!

Every day, we are learning how to see and support each other as a school community – even at a physical distance. That starts with knowing what’s working and not working (assessment!). It continues with figuring out what we can change, in our sphere of influence, to make things better. And it always includes giving ourselves permission, as parenting adults, to let “good enough for now” be good enough.

One Thing To Know Today!


Thanks so much for your partnership as we complete the second week of Phase 2 of The Berkeley School’s Distance Learning Plans. Your feedback on these surveys helps us assess our success and align our programs with our desired outcomes. Please fill out the appropriate survey (LINKS BELOW), one per child, by the end of the day on Wednesday, April 22.

It’s Friday, so there are other things to know!

Today’s Assembly: We welcomed over 160 families to the assembly today. Thank you for sharing the sweetness of song and our community’s continued commitment to our neighbors in need at the Women’s Daytime Drop In Center, Strawberry Creek Lodge and Chaparral House.

Regretfully as many of us have experienced with recent technical shifts, there were a few challenges with about a dozen families unable access the link, and the recording did not function. We send our best community wishes to you all and look forward to seeing you at next Friday’s Earth Day Assembly.


Featuring our Ashoka Climate Justice group and civic engagement climate work from our students’ distance learning efforts this week. 


Hi, TBS families –

Here’s today’s update. We miss you!

One Thing to Know for Today!

TBS will host a 15-minute All-School Assembly via Zoom tomorrow (Friday) at 2:30p. We know K-8 students will be in attendance, and we’re inviting all members of our school community – ECC students, ECC parenting adults, and any other folks connected to TBS are welcome to attend! See below for details.

Click this link to join the Zoom Meeting:

Time: Apr 17, 2020 02:30 PM Pacific Time
For manual entry: Meeting ID: 722 108 4824; Meeting password: Engage (do *not* enter if using hyperlink above!)
Assembly will be recorded and sent in tomorrow’s Friday message.
Problems joining the meeting? Contact Araxi.

One Thing to Appreciate/Celebrate Today!

Before COVID-19 transformed the month of April, TBS teacher Claire Patterson and Director of Civic Engagement Kate Klaire were scheduled to present a workshop session (“End Homelessness Now!”) at the National Service Learning Conference in New Orleans. Attendees would have learned how the arc of a multiyear service learning/civic engagement initiative takes shape through student leadership, how to design meaningful curriculum that addresses biases and builds capacity with community partners, and how to create meaningful partnerships between students and city government officials. Claire and Kate (and all TBS staff who present at conferences throughout the year) – we appreciate your commitment to professional development and spreading the word about what we do at TBS!

Keep an eye out for tomorrow’s longer Friday message, with links to a second round of Phase 2 Distance Learning Plan surveys. We appreciate your partnership and feedback – and hope you have some weekend coming your way!

Take care,


Hi, TBS families – 

Here’s today’s update – we miss you!

One Thing To Know Today!

  • If you’re like me, you have had many moments over the last month that have challenged your belief that, since you attended school when you were growing up and you learned things, you’d be able to support your child in learning those same things. I can confidently say that my own belief in this area has moved beyond “challenged” and into “eroded”!

  • All of us are rising to that particular challenge some of the time – but none of us are succeeding all of the time. That’s particularly true if we don’t remember learning the concept or skill that our child is now practicing – or if we don’t know why the way we learned to do something works.

  • With that in mind, find 2 minutes and 51 seconds at some point to watch this video, which will teach you how to tie your shoes more effectively (and why it works). I’m serious – it’s life-changing. And even better, you can pass it on…and feel like an expert.

One Thing To Celebrate/Appreciate Today!

  • Today, we celebrate and appreciate all the ways that local and state officials and activists are working to balance competing needs and find a path that helps all people in California return to civic life in a way that prioritizes safety and health. They aren’t done yet – but they are working hard – and we are grateful.

Do You Have A Resource To Share Today?
  • Do you have a resource that you’d like to share with our community? If so, please visit this link and let me know! We’re putting all the resources you are sharing on the Distance Learning Resources page of our website, so visit it today!

We hope to see many of you “at” Friday’s first-ever distance learning mode K-8 assembly – and we hope you are healthy and well enough. We’re getting there!
Take care,



Hi, TBS families –

Thank you for your continued readership of these regular TBS updates!

One Thing to Know for Today:

We will host a 15-minute All-School Assembly via Zoom this Friday at 2:30p. We hope you can join us!

Join Zoom Meeting:

Time: Apr 17, 2020 02:30 PM Pacific Time
Meeting ID: 722 108 4824
Password: Engage
Problems joining the meeting? Contact Araxi.

At The Berkeley School we know that in order for children to build academic and life skills successfully, they need to feel seen, supported, and celebrated. We are all certainly building these skills together, right now, from our homes. One of the ways we learn to see, support, and celebrate as a community is through our student-led K-8 assemblies. We look forward to continuing this tradition on Friday afternoon as we gather and bring together the sea of familiar student faces across our school community that we have missed so much in the past month.

ECC families, we invite you to join in even for a few minutes if it works in your schedule, to sing along and stay abreast of student civic engagement projects and curriculum.

We’ll record the assembly and share it with you in my Friday message. That message will also include an invitation to complete a second survey about your family’s experience with our distance learning plan. Please look out for that!

Take care,


Here’s the daily update for Monday, April 13. Today marks one month since we were last on campuses together — a milestone to mark the fact that we’re getting through this together.

One Thing To Know Today!

You will receive an email from division heads containing a survey link for family feedback. Your input helps us assess the ongoing, Phase 2 implementation of our Distance Learning Plan – thanks in advance!

 One Thing To Celebrate and Appreciate Today!

Today, let’s appreciate the TBS Class of 2020 and their bright high school futures! Next year, they’ll be joining members of the classes of 2017, 2018, and 2019 in high schools throughout the Bay Area – including Albany High, Berkeley High, Bentley, Bishop O’Dowd, the College Preparatory School, El Cerrito High School, Head-Royce, International High School (SF), Lick-Wilmerding, Maybeck, Millennium, Oakland Tech, OSA, and St. Mary’s.

 Do You Have A Resource To Share Today?

Do you have a resource that you’d like to share with our community? If so, please visit this link and let me know! We’re putting all the resources you are sharing on the Distance Learning Resources page of our website, so visit it today!

Take care,


One Thing To Know Today!

  • Take a moment to know that you are all doing enough for your TBS student(s) right now. No matter how much more you think you could (or should) be doing, no amount of distance learning resources or helpful hints can simultaneously add eight adult-only hours to your day, give you years of teaching experience, and replicate the TBS learning environment in a self-contained, self-organizing space. That’s reality! 

  • Also know that you have strong partners at TBS. Teachers at all levels are currently focused on starting and ending each day in structured ways and providing more individualized opportunities for “help in the middle” that distance learning experts tell us matters most. None of that means that each day will go smoothly – it won’t. It does mean that your students will be prepared for the upcoming school year. We’re all working hard on this – and we’ll get there!

One Thing To Celebrate/Appreciate Today!

  • Today, we want to appreciate TBS teachers, who are working nonstop to stay focused on learning outcomes, maintain the relationships and connections that drive children’s learning, schedule requested 1:1 conversations with students and families, and design and execute daily lessons and assessments that go beyond the minimum – all while doing their daily best to be “on” for cameras and meet their families’ needs! As is the case for many of us, teachers’ workload increased significantly when they began working at a distance, and their response has been remarkable. Teachers, thank you!

Do You Have A Resource To Share Today?
  • Do you have a resource that you’d like to share with our community? If so, please visit this link and let me know! We’re putting all the resources you are sharing on the Distance Learning Resources page of our website, so visit it today!

Take care – and hang in there.

Here’s today’s update – and with it, good wishes for our families who, in celebrating Passover tonight, honor the importance of staying connected and hopeful, even at a distance, while navigating an uncertain landscape together.   

One Thing To Know Today!

  • Take two minutes for a video version of today’s “one thing” – especially if you like harmonicas!

 One Thing To Celebrate/Appreciate Today!

  • Today, we appreciate all the TBS community members who are working directly with people in need during this shelter-in-place order. From folks working in hospitals and medical clinics to folks working to support public transportation, from counselors to social workers to public health researchers, we celebrate and appreciate all of you!

Do You Have A Resource To Share Today?
  • Do you have a resource that you’d like to share with our community? If so, please visit this link and let me know! We’re putting all the resources you are sharing on the Distance Learning Resources page of our website, so visit it today!

We miss you! And we’re getting through this together – one day at a time!
Take care,



One Thing To Know Today!

  • Around noon, many Bay Area public school districts (not including Berkeley Unified) announced a unified decision to extend campus closures for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year. As of today, no Berkeley K-12 school has received direction from the state, county, or city to close our campuses beyond May 3 – the end date for the current shelter-in-place order. School leadership and the Board of Trustees COVID-19 Response Committee continue to actively monitor and evaluate directives and guidance from local, county, state, and national public health authorities. TBS is prepared to continue in Distance Learning Mode as long as necessary, and simultaneously remains ready to re-open our campuses when that becomes possible (and advisable).

One Thing To Celebrate/Appreciate Today!

  • We’re celebrating the way that TBS families have continued to support the Women’s Daytime Dropin Center during this time of uncertainty. WDDC typically serves more than 100 meals per week to Berkeley’s low- and no-income women and children. Thanks to Director of Civic Engagement Kate Klaire, Family Association Lead Doug Ng, and TBS families for ensuring that this vital community partnership remains strong, and look for more details as part of Friday’s message!

 One Thing To Check Out Today!

  • One of our community members let us know that National Geographic has opened their education resources to kids and parents! Check them out at Learning At Home!

  • Do you have a resource that you’d like to share with our community? If so, please visit this link and let me know: I’ll draw from family, staff, and student suggestions every day to make sure that we all benefit from our community’s knowledge and ideas.

Thanks for your patience and partnership as we work together to support students in Distance Learning. At TBS, assessment (finding out what we know and don’t know) drives learning, and learning drives action. For example, to maximize security during Zoom lessons, we are using a waiting room feature, and teachers are not admitting anyone whose device name they do not recognize – something that happened more than once today! Once families communicate the names of their students’ devices to teachers, we will be able to safely and inclusively conduct classes via Zoom.

We are fine-tuning our Distance Learning, collecting data over the next few days, and putting our learning into action to meet the diverse needs of our students and families as soon as possible. Thanks for your ongoing support and kindness!

Take care,



One Thing To Know Today!

  • As you heard from Division Heads last Friday, teachers began implementing Phase 2 of our Distance Learning Plans today. You can find the plans at the top of the Emergency Response page on our website: you can also find the ECC plan here and the K-8 plan here.

One Thing To Celebrate/Appreciate Today!

  • Although last week was spring break, our teachers and program administrators worked consistently to get ready for Phase 2 of distance learning. Thanks to all of them for that big work and for doing everything possible to keep children at the center of their teaching!

One Thing To Check Out Today!

  • If you haven’t yet seen it, we highly recommend visiting the Distance Learning Resources page of our website, which features a curated list of learning resources, parenting resources, and other resources that we’ve put together to help our community feel seen and supported.

  • Do you have a resource that you’d like to share with our community? If so, please visit this link and let me know: I’ll draw from family, staff, and student suggestions every day to make sure that we all benefit from our community’s knowledge and ideas.

One Question For This Week: How do you know when your child is learning?

 TBS teachers design classroom lessons and units that go beyond “fun activities” and focus on helping students understand concepts, practice skills, and develop independence as learners. Doing that work at a distance can feel challenging to everyone involved – students, teachers, and families – and we’re all doing our best to keep student learning at the center. Doing that well involves assessment.

 Just as your survey responses helped us assess Phase 1 of our Distance Learning Plan and apply our learning to Phase 2, we’re thinking carefully about assessing our students’ progress during distance learning mode and making sure that we are continuing to see and support all learners in reaching their goals. You’ll hear more from me about this during the week to come.

 Thanks and take care,



Dear Families,

I hope that you and your family have gotten enough of what you need this week to help it feel like a break. The TBS team has been hard at work to launch Phase 2 of Distance Learning Mode on Monday. 

As you are likely aware, on March 31, 7 Bay Area county health agencies issued updated orders for residents to continue sheltering in place, extending through May 3. 

TBS is prepared to continue in Distance Learning Mode as long as necessary, and simultaneously remains ready to re-open our campuses when that becomes possible (and advisable). 

At this point, Berkeley K-12 schools have received no specific directive from the state, county, or city to close campuses past May 3. 

Communication from the governor, state superintendent of schools, and Alameda County Office of Education over the past two days has implied that public schools will continue in distance learning mode until the end of the school year. In light of this evolving situation, school leadership and the Board of Trustees COVID-19 Response Committee are actively monitoring and evaluating directives and guidance from local, county, state, and national public health authorities.

Tomorrow (Friday), all families will receive a communication from your child(ren)’s division head with details about Phase Two of our TBS Distance Learning Plan, which begins on Monday (and reflects extraordinary effort from teachers, division heads, and Director of Teaching and Learning Sima Misra). And beginning next week, you’ll receive short daily email updates from me at 4PM, with a longer update on Fridays.

Thank you for continuing to see and support each other in so many ways. Our children are watching us, and learn deeply from the kindness and compassion we show each other during this time. Let’s continue to keep our students  – and each other – at the center as we move forward into April!

Take care – we miss you!


P.S. In case you missed it, our Extended Day teams created this Videopalooza collection to carry you and your children through this week with messages of friendship and the opportunity to learn something new. Check it out!


We have just learned that public health officers from all seven Bay Area counties have made a unified, regional decision to extend school campus closures through Friday, May 1, to slow the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) to the maximum extent. 

TBS will obviously comply with this guidance and remain in distance learning mode through Friday, May 1. Our campuses will continue to be closed to non-essential personnel until a new order is given. 

In the last month, we’ve all gotten practice in hearing, adjusting, and responding to unexpected news. And while practice makes progress, we also know that progress doesn’t lessen the impact when that news first hits. 

We want you to know that TBS is here for you. We have been preparing for just such a scenario. And we’re ready. 

Our distance learning leadership team will incorporate this new development into our ongoing implementation of the ECC-8 Distance Learning plans. And the TBS Board of Trustees and our administration and faculty will continue working to plan forward for the health, safety, and strength of our school. 

Join me for a Zoom presentation this Friday, March 27 at 1:30p, where you will hear from me and our team about TBS Distance Learning plans following next week’s Spring Break on April 6. A video recording will be available for community members unable to join us live.

We at TBS, the administrative team, faculty, and trustees, are deeply grateful for your ongoing support and partnership on behalf of all students.

Let’s keep seeing and supporting each other! We miss you and your children, and we are all in this together.

Take care,



March 15, 2020

We hope your weekends have had enough social distance for you to keep yourselves and others safe, enough social interaction for you to feel connected, and enough room for all the things that matter most to you and your children.

As we head into our first week of “TBS At A Distance”, we want to remind you that ECC-8 teachers will be working hard on Monday and Tuesday in preparation for Wednesday’s roll-out of our Distance Learning Plan. Please check classroom blogs and emails for updates as that preparation continues. And thanks in advance for the sharing of ideas and learning resources that we already see happening among families on both campuses.

Your responses to our Family Technology Survey really helped us gauge our community’s readiness to learn at a distance, and we think we were able to meet everyone’s needs by the end of the day on Friday. However, if you’ve discovered that you don’t have the technology or materials your child will need to access age-appropriate distance learning, please reach out to our division heads:  Kathy Duhl (ECC), Bliss Tobin (grades K-5), or MaryBeth Ventura (grades 6-8). They’ll see what we can do to help.

Since we know that a connected community is the true “crucible” of civic engagement, we are planning multiple ways that our school can help children and parenting adults stay safely and consistently connected – at safe social distances – during the next few weeks. Some of those efforts will be coordinated by TBS staff members, and others will be coordinated by community volunteers who have stepped forward with ideas, skills, and/or just a desire to help out. 

We teach our children that doing things for other people is one of the best ways to relieve worry and stay optimistic, and over the next few weeks, we encourage you to think about ways that you can leverage your interests and skills to fill in the gaps that appear when children and adults are more isolated than normal. 

Are you ready to record your student as she demonstrates how to draw an army of fire dragons, or record yourself giving a “TBS Talk” on an area of professional expertise? Are you ready to offer some of your time on Zoom answering live questions from ECC students about outer space or hosting a Rubik’s Cube tutorial? Or would you prefer to spend some time curating a list of great video resources for people of all ages (like TBS alum parent Rion Nakaya has done with The Kid Should See This!)?

Start thinking – we’re all going to need each other’s help. And it’s a great way to model how we hope our children will think when times are challenging.

That’s all for tonight. Please stay in touch and take care of yourselves. Thanks for your support and commitment to staying together as we navigate through these weeks one day at a time.

Take care,



March 12, 2020

Tonight, following two weeks of information-gathering, analysis, and professional consultation, school leadership and the executive committee of the board of trustees made the difficult decision to close both TBS campuses as of 6PM tomorrow (Friday, March 13). We will say more about that decision in later communications: for now, we want to make sure that you have the information you need as quickly as possible.

Our campuses will be closed to students as of 6PM on Friday, March 13: teachers will ensure that all children bring home any necessary materials when they leave at the end of the day.

Beginning on Monday, March 16, we will implement our Distance Learning Plan (DLP) for students on both campuses. Students will transition into full distance learning mode by Wednesday, March 18. Division heads and teachers will communicate with you tomorrow in more detail about that plan, and how it will look for students at various age and grade levels.

As of this writing, we plan to close both our campuses for three weeks. During the weeks of March 16-20 and March 23-27, we will operate school in distance learning mode. We will then move our school’s spring break one week earlier in the calendar – it will now take place during the week of March 30 – April 3. And while we are hoping to reopen our campuses in some form to students on Monday, April 6, we are making plans to evaluate the situation over the next two weeks and will be prepared to adjust that date as needed.

Please bookmark our Emergency Response page and check it for updated information about our response to this situation. We will also contact you by our emergency response system (Swift K12) as future developments warrant.

You’ll hear a great deal more from us in the next few days as we work to stay focused on your children’s learning and our community’s well-being. We are exploring every avenue possible to ensure that families in our community can help each other and stay connected during a strange, challenging time. 

Thanks in advance for helping all of us see and support each other. Our children will learn deep lessons from the way we navigate the next months together. Let’s keep them – and each other – at the center as we move forward.


March 11, 2020

Dear TBS Families,

Here’s the latest update on our school’s response to the evolving COVID-19/coronavirus situation.

UPDATE: How TBS will support student learning in the event of school closure: Distance Learning Plan (DLP) prepared by Monday, March 16

REMINDER: Please review our current TBS attendance guidelines in determining whether you or your student should be on our campuses.

Current Public Health Guidance and TBS Response: The City of Berkeley (in coordination with Alameda County) has issued updated recommendations, which our response team is carefully incorporating into our planning and decision-making. We also continue to consult with public health and infectious disease professionals in our TBS community and in our institutional networks. And as we go forward, we will continue to focus on two key elements: our commitment to keeping children and learning at the center, and our civic engagement responsibility to make a positive difference in the well-being of the communities beyond our campuses, where TBS families live, play, and work.

Over the last two weeks, you’ve seen how our response looks. We proactively postponed the middle school play and rescheduled Friday’s UAC assembly, changed formats for smaller, on-campus events, and continued to implement on-campus hygiene and attendance protocols that allow our students and staff to work together.

TBS Distance Learning Plan Prepared by Monday, March 16: TBS is accredited by the California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS), and the terms of that accreditation require us to meet or exceed a minimum number of instructional days for all students, with particular attention to students in grades 3-8. With this provision in mind, a core group of instructional administrators is developing a Distance Learning Plan (DLP) that would provide students and families with activities, assignments, resources, and feedback mechanisms appropriate to each student’s age and grade and aligned with our ECC-8 learning outcomes.

As I write, teachers and administrators are working through the draft DLP together and training on the various skills and delivery modes that would be required to teach, at a distance, in mission-aligned ways. I can’t say enough about the ways that their work models the “growth mindset” approach they take in teaching your children – their commitment and persistence are remarkable, but hardly surprising. Even if the DLP is never implemented, they deserve our deep appreciation and thanks.

FAQ links on the TBS Emergency Response site include:

  • Who can be onsite at TBS campuses?
  • What are the cancelled/postponed School activities?
  • Is there a concern about food transmission?
  • What are the TBS cleaning processes on both campuses?
  • How will TBS support student learning in the event of school closure?

March 9, 2020

Thank you for your continued support of our school community. The TBS Response Team continues to be guided by public health agencies as we do our part to respond to the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, and we have some updates to share about our response, including…

MODIFICATIONS to guidelines for school attendance and on-campus presence
MODIFICATIONS to upcoming school events (and our decision-making criteria)

ACTION NEEDED: Complete the technology survey today if you haven’t already to support distance learning plans.


The California Department of Public Health has made changes to specific recommendations addressing who should and should not be present on school campuses. Read on for who can be onsite at TBS campuses: we’ll also post signage at each campus entry point to help visitors know our guidelines proactively.

If any of the following statements are true for you,

  • please help us take care of our community
  • by remaining off our campuses until none of them are true.
  • I have a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19.
  • I have had confirmed, “close contact” with an individual who has a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19.
  • I have returned from traveling in any country identified by the Centers for Disease Control as “Level 3 Travel Health Notice” within the past 14 days (currently China, Iran, Italy, and South Korea).
  • I have a temperature of 100.3 or more, or have had one during the previous 24-hour period (employees and students must be fever-free for 24 hours WITHOUT the aid of fever-reducing medication before returning to our campuses).
  • I am in the first 48-hours of a regimen of antibiotic medication.
  • I have a cold that is less than three days old.
  • I have heavy or yellow/green nasal discharge or a constant cough.
  • I am vomiting or have diarrhea.
  • I have symptoms of a possible communicable disease (i.e. sniffles, reddened eyes, sore throat, headache, abdominal pain, or fever.)

If any of the first three statements are true for you, please let Mitch know directly as soon as possible – your prompt communication helps the response team work closely with public health officials to respond appropriately.

TBS Events: Public health officials recommend that schools consider limiting configurations in which students mingle on campus. In addition, schools are being asked to consider rescheduling or reconfiguring “large events” where people from multiple communities come together. With this in mind, please note the following schedule changes.

  • Middle School Play 3/12 & 13: to be rescheduled to a future date
    Basketball Game 3/10: cancelled
  • All School Assemblies: to be modified
  • Recess: to be modified

Going forward, our response team will continue to evaluate scheduled events and use a set of evidence- and recommendation-based criteria (see below) to determine whether to hold events as planned or modify them in some way.

  • Public health agency requirements and/or recommendations
  • Projected number of attendees
  • Event location (proximity to areas of greater/lesser risk)
  • Event space configuration
  • Square footage
  • Ventilation
  • Indoor versus outdoor
  • Possibility of social distancing within event space
  • Impact of decision on student learning
  • Availability of alternate solutions

Additionally, as per CDPH recommendation, we’ve designated a “sick room” on each campus to minimize continued risk of exposure when students or staff members begin to display any of the symptoms outlined in our attendance policy.

TBS efforts to keep our community healthy related to cleaning practices continue as outlined below.

  • For the last two weeks, our cleaners disinfect daily, and we have placed hand sanitizer throughout the school, in all classrooms, in offices, and at the front desks.
  • All offices and classrooms have cleaning supplies to use to disinfect work stations.
  • We ask that people substitute “elbow bumps” for the usual hugs and hand contact, and practice social distancing.
  • We have advised all students and all staff members to wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, particularly after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing their nose, coughing or sneezing.
  • We have communicated with our hot lunch provider and they follow all CDC guidelines. Students wash or sanitize their hands before eating.
  • Any ill employees and students are instructed to stay home, as per our handbook requirements.

Please contact us if you have questions or new information. Please take care of your own health and the health of your loved ones. And thanks for everything you do on behalf of students, families, and staff here at TBS!


March 6, 2020

It’s been affirming and reassuring to see so many parenting adults on our campuses over the last two days, engaged in family-school conferences. At a time when we are all learning to practice “social distancing,” those moments are even more valuable!

Although not much has changed since our Tuesday update, I’m writing to update you on our evolving response to the COVID-19/coronavirus situation. If you’re in a hurry, please start by filling out this Family Technology Needs survey – then read on to see why!

Response Team
I’d like to introduce our TBS response team, which has been hard at work for the past two weeks. Director of Advancement Araxi Gundelfinger and I lead the team together: ECC Director Kathy Duhl, Director of Facilities and Campus Safety Tim Thomas, Director of Marketing and Communications Carmen Scott, Director of Teaching and Learning Sima Misra, and Director of Finance and Operations Amy Coty round things out, with K-5 Division Head Bliss Tobin and Middle School Division Head MaryBeth Ventura closely involved.

This team meets weekly (more as needed), and communicates very frequently with each other, teachers, and the administrative team to ensure that our planning, implementation, and responses are aligned with public health recommendations and our commitment to student learning and well-being. This team structure serves us well and allows our faculty to focus on your students!

The response team continues to be guided by explicit recommendations from government agencies (Berkeley Public Health, the state of California, and the Centers for Disease Control) as we develop, implement, and modify our practices, policies, and decision-making processes. We continue to benefit from a robust professional network of schools and professional associations – local, statewide, and national. And we are fortunate enough to have several individuals in our parenting community with deep expertise in public health and infectious diseases: their ability to distill information and provide evidence-based input with specific knowledge of our campuses and culture has made a tremendous difference in our ability to move forward with clarity.

Community Events and School Sick Policy & Attendance
Please continue to follow our guidelines for school attendance rigorously, erring on the side of caution whenever possible. When reporting an absence, please include your child’s symptoms.

Professionals have advised us that, unless public health agencies advise otherwise, those handbook guidelines (and the handwashing, sneezing and coughing, cleaning, and physical contact protocols we follow at school) are our best way to respond to the spread of this coronavirus in our community. We are delivering the same message to our students, and appreciate your continued support at home.

You may have noticed that we’ve rescheduled some upcoming community events. We are considering several criteria in making those decisions, including alignment with public health recommendations, amount of advance planning required, impact on student learning, “re-schedulability,” event space, distance from campuses, and number of people expected to attend. And we anticipate that the next few months will look, and feel, different on our campuses as we implement decisions based on changing data and find other ways to maintain community connection. We’ll continue to inform you about these changes through email, Newsnotes, and classroom blogs.

Distance Learning Preparation and Family Technology Needs Survey

Our faculty has been working incredibly hard to prepare for scenarios where students and/or teachers are required to be off-campus and/or isolated for extended periods of time. It goes without saying that teaching, preparing for family conferences, and ramping up for teaching at a distance is challenging work. Division heads are ensuring that K-8 teachers have time early next week to finalize plans and prepare materials to support student learning in a variety of scenarios. Online platforms (including Google Classroom, which we use in grades 4-8) have a host of features to provide richer distance learning opportunities. CAIS, NAIS, and ATLIS have created libraries of resources for schools to explore and use.

Most important, TBS belongs to multiple communities of schools and educators, both nationally and internationally, who are proactively sharing ideas and resources that align with our vision, educational approach, and curriculum. We’ve specifically partnered with two mission-aligned schools, both in San Francisco (The San Francisco School and Live Oak School) to create online spaces where preschool–8 teachers can connect directly, collaborate, and share materials.

In the event of a scenario where students are required to remain off-campus for extended periods, we are working to establish each TBS household’s level of access to the hardware and internet connectivity that distance learning will require. To that end, we are asking one parenting adult in each TBS household to fill out this Family Technology Needs survey, intended to assess our community’s level of access. Please make sure you respond by 5pm on Monday!

School-Home Information Sharing
If you have questions about anything related to TBS and COVID-19 or have information to share, please start by communicating directly to me rather than to teachers, administrators, the TBS Hub, or other TBS-connected entities – including whether your family is sick or may have been exposed to the virus. This practice will allow us to leverage the strength of our response team and decision-making protocols to ensure alignment with public health directives and guidelines, to communicate quickly and clearly, and to help TBS staff and parenting adults focus on keeping children and learning at the center of their daily work.

We think this is particularly important as news of COVID-19 symptoms in various spaces continues to develop. Families in our community live and work in interdependent ways, and we know each other well: as a result, the temptation to connect a piece of news to an individual’s profession, typical travel schedule, family structure, or place of residence can be strong. Please rest assured that families in our community are paying attention to public health guidelines, following directions, and communicating regularly with us if they have concerns or information to share. We can trust each other, and we will communicate with the school community quickly if there is any relevant news to share.

Thank You!!
Thank you for your individual and collective support as we’ve navigated the past few weeks and grappled with what it means to be a school that emphasizes interaction and connection among community members during a time of heightened uncertainty. Your ability to keep your children at the center, partner with us, and respond to changing circumstances with grace and intentionality has been remarkable – but unsurprising. And our collective ability to maintain a strong partnership will continue to be our community’s compass as we navigate an unfamiliar landscape.


March 3, 2020

 As the Center for Disease Control has emphasized, there is not currently a coronavirus pandemic in the United States. However, given how quickly the global situation is evolving, we are monitoring new developments, and will continue to reevaluate our plans and action steps daily.

As you may know, Berkeleyside has reported one confirmed case of COVID19 in Berkeley. According to their article, it does not appear to be community-acquired. The person was concerned about exposure through travel and voluntarily self-quarantined.

We’re looking to the World Health Organization, the Center for Disease Control, and local public health agencies for the most up-to-date information and guidance. In addition, TBS belongs to two school associations (the National Association of Independent Schools and the California Association of Independent Schools), and both are working hard to ensure that schools have the most relevant school-specific information on a daily basis. Finally, we’re lucky enough to have parenting adults in our community with deep public health expertise. We’ll use input from all of these sources to inform our decision-making.

We also wanted to take this time to highlight systems and protocol we already have in place to keep our community healthy during cold & flu season.

School Surface Cleaning
On both campuses, all door handles, faucets, toilet handles, light switches, student work areas, and other places that hands often touch are wiped down nightly and disinfected.

Hand Washing
All ECC-8 students must wash/sanitize hands before eating. While this was strongly encouraged before the emergence of COVID19, we have now made this a mandatory practice, closely supervised by teachers.

Please join us in reinforcing these best practices with your students at home:
  • Practice good respiratory hygiene: cover up coughs and sneezes with inner elbows.
  • Emphasize a “hands-free, no-touch face zone” of eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Ensure that everyone in your house washes hands frequently and thoroughly (20 seconds or longer), or uses hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.

Sick Policy
As noted in our 2019-20 Family Handbook, employees and students must stay home if any of the following statements are true for the individual…

  • Has a temperature of 100.3 or more, or has had one during the previous 24-hour period (employees and students must be fever-free for 24 hours WITHOUT the aid of fever-reducing medication before returning to our campuses).
  • Is on the first 48 hours of a regimen of antibiotic medication.
  • Has a cold that is less than three days old.
  • Has heavy or yellow/green nasal discharge or a constant cough.
  • Is vomiting or has diarrhea
  • Has symptoms of a possible communicable disease (i.e. sniffles, reddened eyes, sore throat, headache, abdominal pain, or fever.)

School Alert System
In the event that we need to communicate critical information about COVID19 with our community, we will use our school alert system, which relays messages by email and by text. We will perform our next test of this school alert system tomorrow, Wednesday, March 4. On that day, every parenting adult should receive an email and a text message from The Berkeley School.

We are following CDC guidance and preparing for possible scenarios and will continue to communicate regularly with pertinent information.

Please reach out with any questions or concerns to Tim Thomas, our Facilities & Campus Safety Director, 510-665-8800 ext. 104.