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Berkeley Schools Ramp Up Testing Amid Omicron Surge

Committed to keeping schools open, the Berkeley school district is ramping up testing and passed a booster-or-test policy for students and staff. Ana Vasudeo of the Public Health Institute’s Safely Opening Schools program is highlighted for her work in helping districts across the state, including BUSD, get access to at-home rapid tests.

  • Berkeleyside

In response to the surge of COVID-19 cases with the onset of the Omicron variant, the Berkeley school district is raising pay rates for substitutes and adding testing in an effort to catch cases. The school board also passed a booster-or-test policy for students and staff that will take effect Feb. 25.

Staff absences, many caused by the highly contagious omicron variant, are putting additional strain on school employees long working in overdrive. BUSD had been facing shortages of substitute teachers and high-need positions like special education aides since the start of the school year: Now, the need to fill classrooms is only growing.

The school district is also ramping up testing, keeping its testing site at the Berkeley Adult School open the rest of the week, and is working to get more at-home test kits and distribute them as soon as possible to all high school students, regardless of vaccination status.

At their Jan. 5 meeting, school board members applauded the district’s success in distributing rapid tests to all students and staff in anticipation of a COVID-19 surge, achieved in part thanks to School Board Director Ana Vasudeo. Vasudeo also works as the managing director of the Public Health Institute’s Safely Opening Schools program, where she helped districts across the state, including BUSD, get access to at-home rapid tests before the holiday break. The test kits enabled students and staff to get results that would have otherwise been difficult to find amid a testing shortage that has left the city’s testing sites with long lines and fully booked appointment calendars.

Click below to read the full story in Berkeleyside.

Originally published by Berkeleyside

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