Schools / In brief

Berkeley schools’ Ed Hub closed due to poor air quality, low supplies

Berkeley Unified School District’s Ed Hub will be closed Friday, Aug. 21 and Monday, Aug. 24 due to poor air quality from several wildfires in the Bay Area, as well as dwindling technology supplies for students. 

The Ed Hub, operated in partnership with the Berkeley Public Schools Fund at Berkeley Adult School on San Pablo Avenue, has been handing out Chromebooks, technology and school supplies for distance learning since campuses first shut down due to the pandemic in March. The center has distributed 4,000 laptops since March, according to district spokeswoman Trish McDermott.

This includes those for the new school year, which started again this week. But the district immediately had to respond to the possibility of rolling power outages from region-wide heatwaves and storms, and now the impact on air quality from three wildfires across nearly every Bay Area region. The air quality index measured near the Berkeley Aquatic Park was at 84, or “yellow” as of Friday afternoon, but the number has been fluctuating and BUSD said it will not operate its supply center when it could go up to “red” levels.

The Ed Hub is usually open on Monday and Friday from noon to 2 p.m., and Wednesday from 3:30-5:30 p.m. The district ran out of Wi-Fi hotspots this week but said it will have some next week, likely by Wednesday, if the air quality improves. They are also running low on Chromebooks, and ask any families who are able to afford a laptop of their own to return the Chromebooks for others to use. The supplies are currently being prioritized for those who need them most, McDermott said. 

Two boxes of Chromebooks set out on a table for Berkeley High School students to be handed out by Berkeley Schools Volunteers. Photo: Pete Rosos