September 20, 2020 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Santa Monica School District May Push Back Start Date

County to Not Issue Reopening Waivers

By Sam Catanzaro

Santa Monica’s public school district may push back the first day of classes while Los Angeles County health officials say they will not be granting waivers for elementary schools to reopen for in-person instruction.

In a letter sent to parents Wednesday, Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) Superintendant Dr. Ben Drati cited additional training for teachers as the reason behind the delayed start date.

“We are in the process of finalizing a memorandum of understanding with the Santa Monica-Malibu Classroom Teachers Association that includes expectations regarding various aspects of distance learning,” Drati said. “One component of the MOU is professional learning and the appropriate number of days to fully train and empower our teachers with the necessary skills and tools to successfully teach remotely this fall.”

According to Drati, SMMUSD is considering adding two days of professional development on top of the previously allotted three days, which would move the start date to from Thursday, August 20 to Monday, August 24.

The school board will finalize plans at their August 13 meeting. Drati noted that if the board approves the new start date two extra days of instruction will be added to the end of the school year.

Drati’s announcement comes as the Los Angeles County of Public Health (Public Health) announced that it will not be issuing waivers to elementary schools to reopen for in-person classes.

In a statement released Tuesday, said it will adhere to new guidance from the California Department of Public Health which recommends that Counties with case rates at or above 200 cases per 100,000 residents do not extend waivers for the re-opening of classroom instruction for students in grades TK- 6. Los Angeles County’s case rate currently is around 355 per 100,000, according to Public Health.

“We know that to many families, this is a disappointing announcement, but it’s based on the existing science and data that is guiding all of our decision-making. We need to ensure the health and safety of our children, school teachers and staff and all of their families,” reads the statement. “This decision will be reconsidered once the case rate falls to the levels recommended by the State.”

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