In ‘abundance of caution’ related to COVID-19, Berkeley private school closes for 2 days

A Black Pine Circle family traveled internationally and was potentially exposed to COVID-19. No one from the family is showing symptoms.

Update March 8: The school will remain closed until at least March 12, school officials told the community in an email over the weekend. They said the decision when to reopen will depend on the results of the test taken by the family “potentially exposed on the Grand Princess round trip from San Francisco to Mexico Feb. 11-21.” The family has not shown any signs of the virus.

Original story: Black Pine Circle, a private elementary school in West Berkeley, is shutting down for two days to do a deep cleaning of the school because one family recently traveled internationally, and could potentially have been exposed to COVID-19, a new coronavirus.

No one in the family is showing any symptoms of the virus, but school officials decided to be extra careful, according to an email to school families sent out on March 4 by the Head of School, John Carlstroem.

Carlstroem said the school would be closed March 5 and 6, and reopen on March 9.

He wrote in the email: “Our administration learned this afternoon that a BPC family, who traveled on internationally over Presidents’ Week break, was potentially exposed to COVID-19. No one in this family is showing any symptoms of the virus. In conversations with Berkeley Public Health Officer, Dr. Lisa B. Hernandez, and her coordinators at California HAI CDC, we were told that asymptomatic individuals are not considered contagious.

“However, out of an abundance of caution and for the safety and well-being of our community, the BPC Board of Directors and administrative team have decided to close the school until Monday, March 9, so we can conduct a deep cleaning of the entire facility.”

On March 2, the city of Berkeley announced that a resident in their mid-30s had tested positive for COVID-19. That person has a mild case and had stayed at home in self-quarantine after returning from Italy on Feb. 23. Berkeley health officials are notifying people who may have come into contact with that person.

The city’s Hernandez will be on Twitter @CityofBerkeley for a virtual town hall this Friday, March 6, at 12 p.m. to respond directly to community questions about COVID-19.

Correction: Our original story quoted the email sent out by Black Pine Circle’s Head of School, John Carlstroem, in which he wrote that Dr. Lisa Hernandez, Berkeley’s public health director, told Black Pine Circle that asymptomatic individuals are not considered contagious. According to Berkeley spokesman Matthai Chakko, Dr. Hernandez’s recommendations are and always have been the same as those of the CDC which state that “some spread might be possible before people show symptoms; there have been reports of this occurring with this new coronavirus, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.”