All students to have option to return to classroom by end of April
By Sam Catanzaro
All Santa Monica public school students will have the option to return to the classroom in April.
On March 26, Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) Superintendent Dr. Ben Drati announced elementary students will return full-time on April 19 and secondary students will return full-time on April 26. According to Drati, secondary students will have a week of hybrid as a transition the week of April 19. Distance learning will be an option as well Drati noted.
For elementary, on the week of April 12 students will engage in a modified distance learning model with both synchronous and asynchronous work. For secondary, the week of April 12 students will engage in a modified distance learning model, followed by a week of hybrid for the week of April 19, as schools ramp up to reopen on April 26.
“We are confident that this is the best decision to ensure everything goes smoothly upon return. We are committed to reopening our schools and remaining open,” Drati said.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health distancing guidance was recently reduced to three feet in classrooms, a factor Drati cited as influencing the decision to reopen.
“Six-foot distancing will still be required between teachers and students, and during times such as while eating and drinking when a mask is temporarily removed. Mask wearing and frequent handwashing / sanitizing will be required,” Drati said. “This opens up tremendous opportunities for fully reopening for those students who are ready for return.”
Elementary students not returning for in-person, will be assigned a new teacher and new class with other distance learning-only students in the same grade.
“This is the only way we can continue offering a high-quality distance learning Zoom experience with similar scheduling and a fully-focused return to on-campus learning,” Drati said.
Distance learning teacher assignments will be provided the week of April 12.
For secondary students continuing with distance learning only, students will keep their same teachers and participate with the class via Zoom, though there may be a few exceptions for teachers who are unable to return in person.
Vaccinations have been underway for SMMUSD staff for over a month and according to Drati, all staff members who want to get vaccinated have already received at least one dose.
Drati in his reopening announcement urged families not to let their guard down.
“It will be critical to keep sick children at home so as not to risk an entire class, or worse, an entire school having to shut down. Your principal will inform you of the consequences for students who will not wear their mask properly, as this is a serious issue during this time,” Drati said. “In addition, we will be announcing a COVID testing protocol for our school sites, as well as other safety measures that we view as important elements in keeping all individuals safe while building confidence for families uncertain about sending their students back to in-person school.”