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By Alyssa Erdley
Observer Staff Writer 

Covid-19: SMMUSD Staff Recommends Distance Learning Only When Schools Reopen in August

Santa Monica will follow similar decisions by Los Angeles Unified School Dist. & San Diego School District

 

File photo

The Samohi Choir performing at Notre Dame de Paris, a few weeks before the cathedral burned in a fire.

Today staff at the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District recommended learning occur solely from a distance when school reopens in August. The SMMUSD School Board will decide at their July 16 meeting if they want to take staff's recommendation, but it is unlikely they will disagree.

Schools in Santa Monica closed in mid-March due to the growing epidemic of COVID-19 in the county. They did not reopen for in-person instruction but moved to an online-only format.

In a survey conducted of parents and staff this week, staff were more in favor on online-only learning while parents were more in favor of some form of in-person learning. The shift of education from children attending school where they were able to participate in hands-on learning and socialize with friends to a situation where children were at home in front of a computer screen for hours at a time was not considered a big success by either parents or teachers in the survey, though many called it "moderately successful."

"SMMUSD staff want to reopen in-person as soon as possible and had been preparing to recommend an in-person option (Model B, the hybrid model that includes both in-person and distance learning). However, the steady upsurge in coronavirus cases in our region combined with the advice of public health experts has led us to the conclusion that distance learning is the most prudent model to start the 2020-2021 school year," wrote SMMUSD Superintendent Ben Drati in a letter to parents today.

In addition, Drati cited the difficulty in preparing campuses physically to meet guidelines and protocols to help prevent the spread of disease. "Reopening with distance learning provides us the opportunity to fully implement these recommendations and prepare for the return of students and staff as quickly and safely as possible," he said.

Drati admitted that "distance learning may present a challenge to many families."

 

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