Walden Reopening Plan

City of Berkeley Reopening Order October 2, 2020

City of Berkeley Reopening Order November 5, 2020

Alameda County Guidance

State of California Guidance

Guidance Related to Cohorts

As the Walden community returns to in-person instruction and learning, we are reminded that caring for each other and being mindful of how our actions may affect other members of our community is of utmost importance. With that in mind, please familiarize yourselves with the requirements for being on campus together.


Shared surfaces:

Table tops, door knobs, bathrooms, toys, art materials, light switches, copier, phones, chairs, books, math manipulatives.

Walden has purchased individual desks for our students. We also have sneeze guards dedicated for each student. Tables/desks are sanitized frequently throughout the day, and always between cohort use. When students are using a large table, outside,  no more than 2 students per table.

We have 7 toilets and will have consistent cohorts assigned to each. Office staff/teachers will sanitize throughout the day. We have replaced two drinking fountains with two hands free sink stations. We have 11 additional sinks at school. Office staff/teachers will sanitize throughout the day. We have sanitizing sprays and wipes for handles, knobs, light switches and surfaces. We have hand sanitizer stations throughout our campus. Students will use hand sanitizer prior and following using any outside space.

Toys will be separated into bins for each cohort. They will be cleaned after use with sanitizers.

Markers, pencils and other school supplies will be separated into bins for either:

  1. Individuals, when possible, or
  2. Cohorts

Other items of frequent contact: the copier, door knobs, light switches, will be sanitized throughout the day by office staff/teachers. 

We have Saturday cleaning crews each week to do deep cleaning.

For cleaning surfaces:

Walden uses Purell Professional surface disinfectant in a spray bottle and also Aktive Disinfecting wet wipes. 

Increased air flow:

We have purchased 4 outside tents so we can keep cohorts small, and for outdoor learning. We have remodeled our art room so one whole wall is a glass garage door which we can open for outside art use and major air ventilation.

Each classroom opens up to an outdoor space; the doors and windows will be kept open. Each room has a heavy duty Alen air purifier,

Each day will start with newly sanitized classrooms and common areas. All common areas will be frequently sanitized throughout the day, including bathrooms, There will be clear signage all around campus with distancing and hand washing and mask wearing requirements.


  • Students will be placed in class cohorts of 5-14 students for the purposes of reducing exposure, maintaining physical distancing, and contact tracing. 
  • Lower Group (2 cohorts), Lower Middle Group (1 cohort), Middle Group (2 cohorts), and Upper Group (2 cohorts).  
  • Current guidance allows for students to be part of a maximum of two cohorts.  At Walden, this applies to students who enroll for Extended Day Care (EDC), during which their EDC cohort may be different from their school day cohort. EDC cohorts will follow small cohort guidance and will be limited to stable cohorts of no more than 16, inclusive of children and adults. Children can be part of an after-school class or an EDC cohort, but not both.
  • LMG-UG students will have a dedicated classroom for their cohort.
  • Arts teachers will teach one cohort in-person for a period of 4 weeks. The goal is to reduce possible exposure of both students and staff and to facilitate contact tracing if necessary.
  • Cohorts will remain stable, with the exception of new students entering the school
  • Restrooms will be limited in occupancy to the extent possible.


Overview: The stable cohort model Walden will implement, along with mask wearing at all times, decreases the need for strict physical distancing for those within the same cohort. The current recommendation is practicable as possible, with masks within a stable cohort, when possible. Teachers crossing cohorts will need to physically distance at least 6 feet from students at all times.

Entry Gates:  Arrival and dismissal will be staggered, and utilize the 2 gates on McKinley and the gate on Dwight Way.  Each class will be assigned a gate to use to promote physical distancing of cohorts.  The sidewalk outside each gate will be marked with 6-feet spacing to promote physical distancing outside of the campus.  Exception:  Students enrolled in Extended Day Care (EDC) will be dismissed through the McKinley gates only.

Office: Students will not be allowed to enter Walden’s office.  The Office Parent will be able to support students in a sheltered outdoor area adjacent to the office/Art room.  

Classrooms: Classrooms are being arranged such that students can sit 3-6 feet apart.  Non-essential furniture has been removed to allow for more spacing, and in some classrooms new desks have been acquired to meet this guideline.  Plexiglass shields for each student will be used to promote health and safety.  In classrooms, students will have assigned desks and chairs.

Bathrooms: Cohorts will be assigned bathrooms (students enter one at a time) to promote physical distancing of shared spaces. Outdoor sinks have been installed so that students need not enter the enclosed area of a bathroom for hand washing purposes.  

Outdoors: We plan to utilize outdoor space as much as possible.  We have planned outdoor classroom areas for small groupings, allowing seating to be spaced 6 feet apart in an area covered by canopies.  Stable cohorts will be assigned to a designated area of the campus during outdoor play/recess activities to promote physical distancing.  Recess and lunch periods will be staggered to promote physical distancing.

Transitions:  Routines will be set in place for students to be distanced when lining up, and to enter classrooms one at a time in order to maintain social distancing as much as possible during transitions.

Belongings: Instructional materials and personal items will not be shared during a school day.  Each student will have their own materials and supplies.  Students will be assigned their own plexiglass shield to be used exclusively by them.


Entrance: Lower – Lower Middle Group

  • Before exiting their vehicles, adults dropping off their child(ren) must put on masks. Masks should be worn over mouth and nose during the entire drop off procedure until you re-enter your vehicle.
  • Please walk your child to the entrance on Dwight Way to be cleared by a staff member based on your response to the daily health screening. Please keep at least six (6) feet distance between your family and the families in front and behind you in line. Six foot distances have been marked on the sidewalk in yellow.
  • Non-staff parents are not allowed on campus except if extenuating circumstances or fulfilling work commitments.

Entrance: Middle Group – Upper Group 

  • Students may be dropped off curbside so long as their daily health screen indicates that they are cleared to attend.
  • Children walk to their designated entrance gate on McKinley Avenue (see below) to be cleared by a staff member based on your response to the daily health screen. Please keep at least six (6) feet distance between you and the students in front and behind you in line. Six foot distances have been marked on the sidewalk in yellow.
  • All students and staff will need to submit a daily health screening no later than 8:00 a.m. every morning before coming to school.
  • Exterior gates will be propped open during drop off so that families do not need to touch the keypad or the handles of the doors when they arrive at school.
  • All children will use hand sanitizer before entering a classroom.
  • Student entry will be split among the 3 gates (2 on McKinley Avenue and 1 on Dwight Way.) LG and LMG will use the Dwight Way gate, MG grade will use the south McKinley gate and UG will use the north McKinley gate.
  • To avoid congestion, there will be a staggered schedule for drop off and pick up. Please see below for your child’s designated schedule.
  • Important note: Outside of morning and afternoon drop-off and pick-up windows, any parent coming to campus must call the office to arrange for dropping off or picking up their child. 

Exit – All Groups

  • Children should be picked up at their designated gate at each class’s dismissal time. Parents/caregivers will not be permitted to enter campus. We will be propping open the gates so that families do not need to touch the keypad or the handles of the doors to enter the campus. Please be sure to wear a mask at all times.
  • Please limit interactions with other parents and ensure that you maintain a safe distance (>6 ft) while talking. Please avoid gathering with parents from separate cohorts, to reduce the chance of cross-cohort contamination.

Staggered Drop-off and Pick-up Schedules

          Dwight Way gate

          LGA: 9:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.

          LGB: 9:30 a.m. and  2:30 p.m.

          LMG: 9:15 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.

          McKinley Avenue south gate

          MGC: 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. (Cristin’s homeroom)

          MGE: 9:15 a.m.  3:15 p.m. (Emma’s homeroom)

          McKinley Avenue north gate:

          UGJ: 8:45 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. (Jeff’s cohort)

          UGT: 8:45 a.m. and 3:15 p.m. (Teresa’s cohort)

Movement on Campus

  • Students will remain with their cohort when on campus, including when outside and at snack, recess, and lunch. 
  • Teachers and staff are assigned to specific cohorts and classes and will use the physical space assigned to those cohorts and classes. 
  • For shared spaces such as the field, the big play structure and the basketball court, each cohort will have a separate time to use the space, and equipment will be disinfected between uses.


All students will be instructed to follow hygiene guidelines and use hand sanitizer before entering the restroom and wash their hands for 20 seconds after using the toilet. Only 2 students at a time will be permitted into multi-stall restrooms; entry doors will remain open. LG and LMG will use only the bathrooms in their classrooms. MG will use only the South bathroom and UG will use the North bathroom as well as the ADA Bathroom. All staff will use the office bathroom.


Recess will take place outdoors for all cohorts, weather and air quality permitting. Students will wash or sanitize hands before and after recess or using any equipment. Recess times will be staggered and each cohort will be assigned an area of the yard for play. Each cohort will also have their own play equipment such as balls. Playground equipment will be used by only one cohort at a time. 


Students will eat snack and lunch with their cohorts outside whenever possible. Water fountains will be closed. Students will bring their own water bottles from home. Seating areas will allow 6 ft. distancing during lunch since students will not have face coverings at this time. Lunch will be staggered so as to reduce density and support physical distancing. On rainy days, students will eat lunch in their classrooms. 


Drama and movement classes will be held indoors and outdoors with modified activities to limit the amount of close personal interaction.  When in the studio classroom, the large garage-style doors will be opened whenever possible for additional ventilation. Markers will be placed on surfaces so that students and instructors will have the appropriate distancing. Dance classes will be held outdoors. Students will wash or sanitize hands before and after dance class. Shared equipment such as theatrical props, sports equipment, such as balls and jump ropes will be sanitized between uses. 

Music Class

Music classes will be held indoors and outdoors, with modified activities to limit the amount of close personal interaction.  When in the studio classroom, the large garage-style doors will be opened whenever possible for additional ventilation. Markers will be placed on surfaces so that students and instructors have the appropriate distance. Markers will also be placed on surfaces with the appropriate distances to designate where instruments such as drums, guitars/ukuleles, and xylophones are placed for student use. Movement activities will be held outdoors. Students will wash or sanitize hands before and after music class.  Shared equipment, such as instruments, mallets, guitar picks, etc., will be sanitized between uses.

Field Trips and Overnights 

All overnight and field trips are on hold until health guidelines change. 

Community Gatherings and Special Events 

At present, all school-sponsored in-person events will be canceled or held in an online format, if possible. Once restrictions loosen, in-person events will be determined on a case-by-case basis with strict adherence to Alameda County Department of Public Health guidelines. There will be no events on campus with mixed cohorts, and all events will be virtual for larger groups.


Outside visitors and groups will be limited to essential visits only. All outside vendors and delivery personnel must wear face coverings while on campus and abide by physical distancing. Delivery personnel will not be permitted to enter any buildings. Vendors on campus longer than 15 minutes will be required to be screened. Any visitor on campus will be required to sign in and provide a phone number, for safety and tracking purposes. For the time being, we will limit any visitors on campus to only emergency situations. All admissions events will be held virtually. 


Walden requires anyone coming on to campus to wear a mask.  All masks must be washed or changed at least daily. Masks must have at least two protective layers. Masks with exhalation valves which release unfiltered droplets are not permissible on campus. If people don’t have a mask, or the mask needs to be replaced, we stock adult size and child size disposable masks in the office. We also have 50 face shields for our staff to wear if they want more PPE. 

We have non-latex gloves in S, M, and L stocked near the office at all times. We have a dispenser for the gloves, which allows people to get their own without touching anything else. We have hand sanitizer throughout the school, and keep this item well stocked. 

We have touchless thermometers. Students are not allowed in the office, which is too small for social distancing.  We have a designated outside area for students right outside the office, if a student needs anything from the office (band aids, ice packs). Office staff will use gloves and tongs and trays to get children what they need.

Tongs and trays and ice packs will be sanitized between uses.

Student work stations have 3-sided sneeze guards.

Walden has laminated posters, with pictures and words, re: social distancing, mask wearing, symptoms, and hand washing posted all around campus, in addition to all entrances and exits.


Anyone entering campus will be required to screen for symptoms, elevated temperature, and exposure to COVID-19 daily, using one of Walden’s online screening forms. This includes students, staff, and parents fulfilling work commitment. Also included are any vendors providing services at Walden (anyone at Walden to service equipment, utilities, conduct inspections, assessments, etc.). All others are asked to remain off campus. If any person answers “yes” to any of the screening questions, they must remain off campus and contact Vicki Edge (COVID-19 Liaison – admissions@waldencenterschool.org), and expect contact from her. Walden is using Google forms and spreadsheets for its screening process. Vendors and delivery people will phone Walden at 510-841-7248 to be admitted to campus.

These are the links for screening:

Screening link for adults

Screening link for students

If any student or staff member develops COVID-19 symptoms or a temperature > 100 while on campus, they will be isolated at an outdoor station near the office until they can be picked up (or take themselves home, in the case of adults).

Individuals will be asked to get COVID-19 testing and to share the results with Vicki as soon as possible. Alameda County protocols for symptoms and positive cases will be followed, as listed in Appendix 2B of COVID-19 School Guidance: Alameda County School Reopening Plans.

Summary of Guidelines and Actions for COVID-19 Symptoms, Exposure, and Positive Cases (Medical privacy in compliance with HIPAA and FERPA will be maintained.)

*In the event of COVID cases and exposures at Walden, cohort members (staff and parents of students) will be notified by e-mail that cohort members have been exposed to COVID-19 without naming any individuals. They will be advised to consult with their medical providers, be tested for COVID-19, and quarantine for 14 days. The results of daily screening responses and any COVID-19 test results are held confidentially by the COVID-19 liaison.


  • Teachers and staff will teach handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.  We will increase monitoring of handwashing.  
  • Staff and students will be encouraged to cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue.
  • Used tissues should be thrown in the trash.  
  • Hands should be washed immediately with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after coughing or sneezing. 
  • We will provide facial tissues, no-touch trash cans, hand soap, 60% alcohol-based hand sanitizer, and disposable hand towels.
  • We will provide hand sanitizer in all indoor spaces used by students or staff and at building entrances/exits.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol will be used.
  • Students will wash their hands or use hand sanitizer:
    • before entering and exiting the classroom
    • after using the restroom
    • after playing outside and returning to the classroom
    • before and after eating
    • after coughing or sneezing
  • There are sinks in all the base teachers’ classrooms.  We have added two touchless sinks outside the North and South bathrooms.  
  • Personal Supplies Kit- 1 or 2 extra masks, hand sanitizer, facial tissues. 


Daily attendance will be tracked for students, staff, and any cleared, essential visitors (who will all be required to fill out a screening form before entering campus). Faculty and staff follow a fixed weekly schedule. Students will remain in assigned cohorts. Any substitutes needed by a cohort would be calendared and listed in contact tracing efforts for exposed students and staff. The local health department COVID-19 liaison is Vicki Edge.


Staff Education

The staff spent the summer learning about and monitoring the updates from the county regarding all aspects of school reopening guidance and safety practices from the county – including facial covering requirements, healthy hygiene, physical distancing, drop-off and pick-up procedures, cohort size and daily screening protocols. We met once a week and we received regular updates from Vicki Edge, our liaison to the county health department and set policy compliant to that guidance as well as the state guidance, and the new City of Berkeley Department of Public Health reopening order. 

Parent Education and Communication

 We are communicating with our parents through these means:

  • Community meetings 
  • Surveys
  • Grade-level meetings
  • Individual phone calls and e-mails from teachers and staff to parents
  • Regular written communications


All Walden staff and volunteers who work on campus will test for SARS-CoV-2 at least once a month on a rotating basis to provide broad surveillance.


Decisions about if and when to close the school due to COVID-19 will be taken in collaboration with the City of Berkeley Department of Public Health. Expect closure of the school if 5 percent of the staff and students are positive for COVID-19. We will plan on distance learning for those days on which the air quality is orange or worse due to competing needs for ventilation for COVID-19 and being in an enclosed space for poor air quality. Inclement weather that precludes keeping doors and windows open will also result in temporary distance learning.