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Reopening MBUSD Schools in 2020 » Reopening our Schools : 2020-21

Reopening our Schools : 2020-21

LATEST UPDATE: October 9: MBUSD publishes Health & Safety Protocols for 2020-21

August 7: A tentative agreement has been reached with our teachers' union regarding distance learning in MBUSD, including agreements on school schedules and minimum expectations for live instruction. Read more about it in our Distance Learning in MBUSD.
From Dr. Matthews' October 19 Monday Morning Message:
On Friday, we updated our “Facts vs. Rumors” webpage in response to questions we have received or heard about. The page has had over 1,030 visits since we updated it October 9.
Here are some updates for this week.
  • High Needs Hybrid: It was fantastic to see some of our DHH students back on campus last week. We had students at several schools returning, and we began assessing students on campuses. In a poll taken last week through the Los Angeles County Office of Education, only about 30% of school districts in LA County had opened schools with high need hybrids. Our program will be steadily expanding from this point forward. Dr. Irene Gonzalez-Castillo sent out this email to parents and guardians of students with IEPs.
  • Preparing our Elementary Classrooms for Hybrid In-Person Learning: When LA County moves from the Purple Tier to the Red Tier (staying below 7.0 cases per 100,000 for at least four weeks), we anticipate that the County will open up elementary schools for hybrid in-person learning. We are preparing for that day by:
    • implementing the health and safety precautions that we described in our Health and Safety Protocols document,
    • placing signage in our hallways and entrances
    • providing directional markers so that we have one-way traffic throughout the school
    • painting socially distanced markings to avoid congregation at entry and egress points
    • turning off water fountains
    • ensuring that all classrooms are equipped with hand sanitizer
    • stocking all sinks with soap and paper towels
    • providing disinfecting supplies
    • maximizing classroom ventilation, including upgrading HVAC filters.
Next week, our Maintenance and Operations (M&O) departments will remove furniture from our elementary classrooms, leaving chairs and desks for a maximum of 12 to 16 students in each classroom, depending on grade level. They will also remove classroom rugs and all furniture that is porous, such as sofas and bean bag chairs.
Room picture
Preparing our Classrooms
This classroom at Pennekamp illustrates the changes students will see when they return to campus.
  • TK-2 Waiver: Our application for the TK-2 waiver is almost complete. We continue to meet with our employees, including our labor unions, focusing on in-person learning in our TK-5 grades. As we continue to assemble all of the requirements for the TK-2 waiver, I have assurances that the City of Manhattan Beach will be providing letters of support this week, I already have letters of support from our PTAs, and I am hopeful that we can meet all requirements by this Friday. Meeting the requirements of the County for this waiver is challenging - only four schools in the entire county had met all requirements as of last week. 
  • Parent Surveys: I am not ready to ask parents to make a commitment and choose between hybrid learning and distance learning, but I do want to get the pulse of our community. In this very brief survey, I am asking parents to let me know, for each of their children, if they had to commit now, whether they would choose distance learning for the remainder of of the 2020-21 school year, or hybrid learning, where they will be in school part of the time and distance learning part of the time. I will share the results with the board on Wednesday and of course share them with our community.
From Dr. Matthews' October 12 Monday Morning Message:
Last week, a number of communications came out of my office. I hope you all received last week’s Monday Morning Message, which will be a regular briefing for the foreseeable future. After the Board meeting on Wednesday, we published the board meeting highlights and shared those via Facebook. On Friday, we updated our “Facts vs. Rumors” webpage in response to some of the questions we have received or heard about. Here are some updates for this week.
  • High Needs Hybrid: The first phase of our high needs hybrid begins this week. We are beginning special education assessments for students from preschool through grade 12. Also, we will begin bringing some of our preschool and elementary students back to campus to receive select specialized services from our DHH (Deaf and Hard of Hearing) and SDC (Special Day Class) staff. 
  • School Safety: I have heard from many parents that we are moving too slowly. While I understand the frustration, I will continue to emphasize safety as we restart in-person learning. We have worked collaboratively with employee groups and other stakeholders to develop comprehensive and well-articulated safety protocols, which you can see here. As we move into the next phases, we will continue to use safety measures that maximize safety for our students, our employees, and our community.
  • TK-2 Waiver: We continue to meet with our employees, including our labor unions, focusing on in-person learning in our TK-5 grades. As part of this work, we will be finalizing elements of on-campus learning and discussing the unions’ support for the TK-2 waiver process. We have all other elements of the application process secured. Even though I believe that due to County requirements, with our schools having fewer free and reduced lunch students than almost all schools in the state, MBUSD schools have little hope of receiving one of the tiny number of waivers being issued, we will work to submit our application as soon as this Friday. All of our efforts are about being prepared to re-open all of our elementary schools as soon as the County allows, perhaps as early as November.
  • Parent Surveys: We will soon be asking our elementary parents to make a decision. We need to know what each family’s plans are when our schools open. We will need to know whether parents are going to commit to remain in distance learning for the remainder of the year, or whether parents are committed to in person learning (when it re-opens) for the rest of the year. We will provide additional information about what that will look like in terms of academics, schedules, and safety when we send that survey out, but we will need your decision soon. And by the way, secondary parents ... your decision time is coming soon.
That’s all for this week. Keep your eye on our social media for more updates. Have a good week, everyone.
From Dr. Matthews' October 5 Monday Morning Message:
The desire for more information has never been higher from our MBUSD community. Everything is changing so rapidly, and people want to know what is going on. So, while I will continue providing updates in my newsletters, I am increasing my communication with the new Monday Morning Message, which will contain brief summary updates related to COVID-19 and our schools. I hope you find it helpful. 
High Needs Hybrid: We intend to start in-person assessments and in-person school for our high-need students with IEPs during the week of October 12. We have submitted our notification forms to the County, informing them that we will begin providing these services in our five elementary schools and our preschool. This Wednesday, I will update our Board on that process. 
TK – 2 Waivers: We heard from the County last week that TK-2 waivers will become available today. Only 30 waivers per week will be granted. Schools with higher numbers of students eligible for free and reduced lunch will receive priority. After two weeks, the first group of 30 schools will hear from the County. We will closely examine the waiver requirements when they become available, and I will update our community where we are in that process at this Wednesday’s Board meeting. 
Re-Opening Requirements: Preparations for opening our schools to students continue. We have upgraded air filters, installed plexiglass in our offices, ordered plexiglass for student desks, established procedures for screening students and employees when they arrive on campus, and developed plans to follow if there is a case of a student or adult with symptoms on campus. Additional updates, as well as our checklist based on Department of Public Health protocols, will be presented to the Board on Wednesday. 
For more detailed information, please tune in to our Board Meeting on Wednesday, October 7th at 5:00pm (broadcast live on our YouTube Channel). You can also find the highlights of what happened at our meetings by clicking the Board Meeting Highlights page on our website. 
Have a great week, everyone.
From Dr. Matthews' September 30 E-Mail to the MBUSD Community:
In August, MBUSD adopted a 5-phase plan to move from distance learning to the return of everyone back on campus depending upon state and county allowance. On September 14, we brought 200 students back to school when we began our child care program. Two weeks later, on September 29, we started our athletic training program based on the county guidance provided on August 6. On September 4, the state announced that districts could bring back students with intensive needs. Now, we are actively preparing to bring back our students with intensive needs who most require in-school special education assessments and/or in-class learning opportunities. We have engaged in productive conversations with our special education teachers, as well as our unions, and continue to construct plans and procedures that will ensure maximized safety for everyone. We anticipate sharing details of our plans to start this program at the October 7 Board Meeting and submitting our K-12 Specialized Services Notification form to the county prior to that meeting.
Yesterday, the County Board of Supervisors directed the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to start granting 30 waiver applications a week, for student in grades TK-2 only, prioritizing the issuance of waivers to schools with higher percentages of students who qualify for free/reduced meals. No L.A. County schools have submitted the waiver application because it is not yet available. We will hear details on how this process will work later this week, and we will begin preparing the application as soon as it becomes available. While working on the waiver application, our primary focus will remain on bringing back our high needs students as soon as possible. Then we will prioritize bringing back the TK-2 students. I am optimistic about our progress, I am grateful to all of the employees who have helped us to get to this point, and I look forward to seeing more and more students and employees on our campuses in the weeks to come.
From Dr. Matthews' September 14 E-Mail to the MBUSD Community:
As we enter our third full week of this semester, I hope that your children’s experiences have been positive. While there are still many challenges with not having our students at school, I have heard from many parents that remote instruction is far more consistent with higher expectations for learning than last spring. I am grateful to our teachers for rising to the occasion, adapting to a whole new teaching environment, and jumping into this year ready to meet the needs of their students.
In this newsletter I will update you on revised county and state guidelines, describe programs we are initiating or hope to begin soon, and look at next steps in our 5-Phase plan for returning to school.
While all of us wish that we could be back to in-person schooling, I know that our teachers will emerge from this pandemic with expertise that could change the face of education when we return. I believe we will be more nimble and more capable of responding to the wide range of student needs. I believe that many parent meetings, including some of our Board meetings, will be held via Zoom so that more people can access them live or through high quality recordings. There are many industries where this pandemic will have long-range implications for what work looks like and where it happens, and schools are no different.
The COVID-19 infection data is getting better both nationally and locally, but we are not out of this yet. Long Beach Unified just announced that they will not be coming back before January 28, 2021. We are still hopeful for an earlier return than that.
As you may remember, the MBUSD Board of Trustees adopted a 5-Phase plan for returning to school:
  • Phase 1: Begin all TK-12 instruction in distance learning.
  • Phase 2: Elementary hybrid model/High Need TK-5 Hybrid
  • Phase 3: High Need Hybrid for grades 6-12
  • Phase 4: Secondary Hybrid
  • Phase 5: Return to Full (Non-Hybrid) Learning
child care
Although we are still in Phase 1, we are beginning to bring back some of our students to campuses this Wednesday. I am looking forward to welcoming almost 200 children as they return to three school sites for childcare: the Preschool, Meadows Elementary, and Pacific Elementary. We are also able to bring back many of our Preschool and EDP teachers and assistants to meet the needs of this program. As we prepare to welcome these students and employees, we have checked all the required boxes in a 95-point checklist from the Department of Public Health and we have obtained all the safety and PPE equipment we need to operate the program. Safety procedures for our students, staff, and families are in place, and when we start on Wednesday, we will be able to quickly assess what practices work effectively and what practices need improvement. All of this will be extremely helpful as we move along our 5-Phase plan towards a full reopening.
volleyball champs
We also hope to bring back some of our student athletes at Mira Costa soon for athletic training. On August 6, the state announced that high schools could begin athletic training without contact, without scrimmaging and without actual playing of games, but it could include conditioning and skill building. Many of our coaches have elected to start these non-mandatory programs. I look forward to announcing the start dates of those programs soon. Again, we will learn from this process as we move towards Phases 2-5.
physical therapy
On September 4, the state announced that they will be allowing small cohorts of students with IEPs and students who are English Learners back onto campuses for assessments and critical learning. This is the High Need Hybrid that is included in Phases 2 and 3 of MBUSD’s re-entry plan. We have been analyzing our programs and our students' IEPs and determining the best ways to meet the most urgent needs. This involves careful examination of the services that are the most difficult to offer in a distance format, as well as a case-by-case review of students who are having the most difficulty accessing services in a virtual model. In addition, we are negotiating with our teachers union and collectively discussing how to open this program on our campuses. We will provide updates as they are available, and we hope to be able to start this program soon.
There have been a lot of questions about when MBUSD will be applying for a waiver to begin our in-person elementary school programs. At this point, the LA County Department of Public Health has no intention of opening the waiver application process until they can examine the high needs hybrid implementation in schools across the county. The County has also stated that this analysis will not be completed until late October or, more probably, early November. Although this news was disappointing, for MBUSD, the successful implementation of childcare, athletics training, and the new high needs hybrid will help us to complete our preparations for re-opening our elementary schools, and then secondary schools, when those options become available.
Free meals
The District was recently approved by the USDA and CDE to provide FREE meals to all MBUSD students through December 31, 2020. This is not the same as the Free and Reduced Price meal program that we run other times of the year. Rather, this is set up to assist parents during this troublesome time. All school districts nationwide are participating, and by ordering meals you are actually helping MBUSD receive funding. Details can be found here, menus are posted here, and order forms can be found here. If you have additional questions, please review the FAQs here. I am appreciative of our Food & Nutrition Director, Lena Agee, for her hard work in getting our district approved for this program.
gym photos
Our construction progress has continued throughout the pandemic. The Mira Costa High School athletics facility is close to completion in mid-October. I cannot wait to open this new building to the public and to see our athletes using the space. If you drive by Mira Costa on Peck Avenue, you can get a nice view of the construction. It’s a beautiful addition to the campus and will serve our community for decades to come. 
Construction workers are also putting the finishing touches on modernization work at Meadows, Robinson, and Grand View. Classrooms on those campuses will now have new flooring, new sliding doors, improved infrastructure, air conditioning and more. The classrooms are beautiful and we Look forward to seeing our students and staff in them.
Just because we are in distance learning, it doesn’t mean that we can’t have powerful assemblies and virtual school gatherings. To honor the victims and heroes of 9/11, Grand View and Robinson Elementary Schools held their first Zoom assemblies last Friday. It was wonderful to see the students’ faces as they sang praises to the essential workers and first responders in our community.
From Dr. Matthews' August 18 E-Mail to Preschool Parents:
Ever since March 13, 2020, the last day we held in-person classes in Manhattan Beach Preschool, we have all been looking forward to finding out when we can get the Preschool back open and working to be prepared for that day. Led by Ms. Kim Johnson, a team of parents and employees met several times to examine how the Preschool could open during the COVID-19 pandemic based on the guidelines available at the time. Since July 22 the MBUSD Board of Trustees has been discussing the same topic, basing its discussion on the foundation laid by the Preschool steering committee. Although the Board has declared all elementary, middle and high schools to be in distance learning (Phase 1) for the foreseeable future, the Board has also declared its intent to open MB Preschool as soon as possible.
The District is working with county and state officials to check all guidelines and make sure that the Preschool can indeed open to serve all students. In addition, the District is in ongoing discussions with both the certificated and classified unions discussing safety protocols and other contractual issues. While neither the County nor the employee union discussion is completely resolved, we are continuing to work on both. For a variety of reasons, I believe that our child care program will open before our preschool program. Parents of three, four, and five year-olds will be sent information about our child care program, which could be a nice transition program until the preschool is reopened. To see information about child care for 3-5 year olds, click here.
We know that when we open the Preschool, there will be additional costs due to mandated safety requirements. Class sizes will have to be much smaller, with fewer students per employee. There will be added custodial and sanitization requirements and costs. Finally, there will be additional personal protective equipment (PPE) costs for staff and students. We anticipate that the tuition for 5 day/week full-day Preschool will be approximately $1620, and the tuition for 5 day/week half-day Preschool will be approximately $1170. In addition, the day will be structured differently, with students remaining with the small cohort of their classroom group and providing activities that allow for appropriate social distancing at all times (i.e., keeping students at least 6’ apart from each other and from their teachers, ensuring that students and staff wear face coverings while on campus, and structuring classroom breaks and restroom use to accommodate cleaning and disinfecting routines).
Until we are able to open the preschool, we are also considering a distance learning program for 3-5 year-old students, taught by our preschool staff, that will include the following:
  • A combination of live (synchronous) and assigned (asynchronous) instruction, all included in a distance learning format, with no in-person instruction
  • Three hours of instruction each day, from 8:30 to 11:30
  • Class sizes of up to 16 students
  • Distance learning tuition would be approximately $955/month
  • Curriculum taught by a certified preschool teacher
  • Director Kim Johnson will send a description of the MBPS Distance Learning Program next week
We are not asking for a firm commitment at this time, but for planning purposes, we need to know if, according to what you know now, your preschool-aged children who are already enrolled in our Preschool will attend when we open. We also need to know whether you would enroll in the distance learning program until the preschool is able to open for in-person instruction. We know there are many more questions, and we will address those as we get nearer the opening. For our planning purposes right now, I am asking you to please fill out the brief survey below. If you have more than one child enrolled in the Preschool this year, please fill out one survey for each child.
Thank you for your response, and we will be in touch again soon.
From Dr. Matthews' August 18 E-Mail to Elementary Parents re: EDP:
At the August 12, 2020 Board meeting, the Board of Trustees voted to re-open the Extended Day Program (EDP) for MBUSD students from age 3 through grade 5, contingent on approval by the LA County Office of Education and the LA County Department of Public Health.
The District is working with county and state officials to check all guidelines and make sure that the EDP can indeed open to serve all students. In addition, the District is in ongoing discussions with our employee union discussing safety protocols and other contractual issues. While neither the County regulations nor the employee issues are completely resolved, we are hopeful that these can be addressed and resolved in the near future.
The Extended Day Program will look much different than it did prior to March 13, 2020 when we were running normally. This program will be a 5-day-a-week program, with hours that are approximately 7:30 am - 4:00 pm (parents will have the option of taking their child out mid-day but will be required to pay full tuition). Activities during the day for all students could include:
  • Support for Distance Learning
  • Utilizing available outdoor space during Distance Learning breaks
  • Safe and distant activities such as yoga, outdoor games, arts, and crafts
  • Hand washing and sanitizing routines
  • Student choice during breaks
  • Snack and lunch
  • Students will remain with a small cohort of their peers and will be required to maintain appropriate social distancing at all times, keeping at least 6’ apart from each other and from their teachers
  • Students and staff wear face coverings while on campus (except when eating) while on campus
  • Structuring classroom breaks and restroom use to accommodate cleaning and disinfecting routines.
We know that when we open EDP, there will be additional costs due to mandated safety requirements. As I mentioned above, the hours of the program are significantly longer than they were last year. In addition, group sizes will have to be much smaller, and we will have fewer students per employee. There will be added custodial and sanitization requirements and costs. Finally, there will be additional personal protective equipment (PPE) costs for staff and students. We anticipate that the tuition for 5 day/week full-day EDP will be approximately $1500 per month.
We are not asking for a firm commitment at this time, but for planning purposes, we need to know if, according to what you know now, you will want your child(ren) enrolled in EDP when it opens. The MBUSD EDP program is an impacted program. Although we have expanded over the past few years, there is still a waitlist for enrollment. We do not know what kind of interest there will be in this program, and the Board has asked that we survey all elementary parents and the parents of 3-5 year-old preschool students to determine their interest level. Please know that if demand continues to be high, we will not be able to provide this service to all interested parents.
We know there are many more questions, and we will address those as we get nearer the opening. For our planning purposes right now, I am asking you to please fill out the brief survey below. If you have more than one child aged 3 through grade 5 this year, please fill out one survey for each child.
From Dr. Matthews' August 7 Newsletter to the MBUSD Community:
When I last wrote to you, I provided several aspects of the distance learning portion for the school year ahead. Since then, we took the recommendations of our Steering Committee and discussed them with our teachers’ union representatives. After several productive and collaborative bargaining sessions, we have reached a tentative agreement.
Some of the key elements that we have added to our Distance Learning in MBUSD document include:
Further definition of the school days and the school year:
  • Days of school offered = 180 days
  • The amount of live instruction that students will receive at a minimum. Live, synchronous instruction is instruction when the teacher is live with students facilitating learning. This may include whole group, small group, or 1:1 instruction. Live instruction will be at least half of each day’s required instructional minutes as defined by AB-77:
  • 90 minutes per day at the TK/K level*
  • 115 minutes per day in grades 1 through 3*
  • 120 minutes per day in grades 4 and 5*
  • 86 minutes per week per class section in grades 6 through 8*
  • 100 minutes per week per class section in grades 9 through 12*
* Please note that these minutes are the minimum minutes that teachers will be providing live instruction. Because those minutes may be for whole group, small group, or individuals, based on the professional judgment of each teacher, the number of live minutes that each child receives may vary. 
  • All students can expect to engage in live, whole-group instruction at the beginning of each school day or class period on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. They can also expect to engage in additional live, whole-group instruction towards the end of the school day or class period, with varying forms of live and asynchronous instruction in between.
  • On the first three days of the 2020-21 school year (August 26-28, 2020), teachers may adjust their instructional schedules to provide for a whole-class live, synchronous welcome and introduction activities at the beginning of the instructional day or class period and then provide asynchronous instruction for the remainder of the day or class period. We are encouraging all teachers to utilize these first few days to build connections with the students enrolled in their classes.
  • We have finalized a schedule for MBMS and MCHS. Both are block schedules, similar to the schedules used in the Spring of 2020. 
MBMS Schedule
MBMS Schedule
MCHS Schedule
MCHS Schedule
  • We have established the school day for elementary school students and teachers. Grade level teams at each school will finalize the schedule that works best in their schools, and school will provide that information before the first day. All elementary school teachers will be available beginning at 8:15 am, and will begin live instruction no later than 8:45 am.
  • TK - K: On all days except for Wednesdays, whole group live synchronous opening activities will begin by 8:45 am, and synchronous instruction will end no later than 1:30 pm.
  • Grades 1-3: On all days except for Wednesdays, whole group live synchronous opening activities will begin by 8:45 am, and synchronous instruction will end no later than 2:15 pm.
  • Grades 4-5: On all days except for Wednesdays, whole group live synchronous opening activities will begin by 8:45 am, and synchronous instruction will end no later than 2:45 pm.
  • On Wednesdays, following a live, synchronous morning check-in, all other instruction may be offered either synchronously or asynchronously at the discretion of the teacher. Instruction will end at 1:00 pm.
  • Music, P.E., and Science specialists will provide a schedule for students at each school site.
We have updated our Distance Learning in MBUSD guide to include this information and more. Professional development sessions with our teachers have begun, principal meetings continue, and distance learning practices and procedures are being finalized. And all the while, we are actively preparing for the day when we move to Phase 2 of our school year, and we can start hybrid instruction.
Yesterday, the Los Angeles County Department of Health published a guide to open child care programs in LA County schools. We are studying these requirements and taking steps to open our own Child Care program in MBUSD. An update will be provided at next Wednesday’s Board meeting.
I hope you all have a nice weekend, and as we get closer to the start of the school year, I will continue to provide updates on our Re-Opening our Schools webpage.
From Dr. Matthews' July 31 Newsletter to the MBUSD Community:
To begin, thank you to our Steering Committee and our two subcommittees, comprised of 100+ employees, parents, and students, who have provided us with so much information, perspective, and creativity. The reopening of MBUSD schools will be far better because of their collective efforts. We are implementing the work we agreed to, and will reconvene this group to discuss new developments and challenges related to our plans.
After a long meeting on Wednesday night, the Board voted to start the 2020-21 school year in distance learning, and then to return to in-person school in phases. There is no set timeline as to when the phases will occur, but the primary determinant will be the level and trajectory of Covid-19 cases in LA County and in our surrounding area. I agree with our Governor and our health department that at this moment, the level of cases is too high, and the trajectory of new cases is headed in the wrong direction. Now is not the time to reopen schools.
That being said, we are diligently preparing for the time when we can reopen all of our campuses, hopefully sooner than later, when both of those numbers are much better. I know that our students and our employees miss being in school. We know that it is better for our students to be in school, but to get them back, we must behave safely and responsibly, while ensuring that our children do the same. This means wearing masks, washing our hands, staying at least 6’ away from non-household members, and limiting interactions with people outside of our households whenever possible. Soon, we will start the move into Phase 2 and make our way back to wonderfully normal school.
At Wednesday’s Board of Trustees meeting, the following issues were discussed regarding the return to school for the 2020-21 school year:
  • The Board approved 5 phases of reopening school, beginning with distance learning;
  • The Board approved SchoolsPLP, conditional upon staff’s final review of the contract, which is an online curriculum for grades 6-12. Elementary models are still being considered;
  • The Board confirmed that we will be using the same attendance expectations and grading standards we were using in 2019;
  • We have listed some professional development topics for our certificated and classified staff to support high quality distance learning. More information about participant outcomes, dates, and times will be communicated shortly;
  • We reviewed examples of a variety of possible schedules for this upcoming year, with finalized plans coming soon;
  • We provided a long list of operational tasks we are working on to be ready for students and staff when they return to campus;
  • The Board made it clear that we intend to open our Preschool this fall.
Here are more details on all of the topics mentioned above.
The Board approved 5 phases of return to school:
Phase 1 – Distance Learning
Phase 2 – Elementary Hybrid
  • Part 1: In TK and K, half the students attend in the morning, then after a 90 minute break for cleaning and disinfecting, the other half will attend in the afternoon
  • Part 2: In grades 1-5, implement a high needs hybrid, providing in-school support for high need students (SDC, EL, DHH, and students not meeting standards) Note: Parts 1 and 2 could be switched in order, or could be done simultaneously
  • Part 3: In grades 1-5, an A/B schedule where students are in school two days a week and receive distance learning three days a week
  • Parents would be given a choice of whether to continue online learning or to enter the hybrid program
Phase 3 – High Need Hybrid (Grades 6-12)
  • Provide four days a week of in-school support for high need students (MWell, SDC, EL, DHH, and students not meeting standards) in grades 6-12
  • Special Education assessment center
  • Parents would be given a choice of whether to continue online learning or to enter the hybrid program
Phase 4 – Secondary Hybrid
  • Provide an A/B schedule with two days a week of in-school learning and three days a week of distance learning
  • Parents would be given a choice of whether to continue online learning or to enter the hybrid program
Phase 5 – Full every day in-school Instruction
Improved and Consistent Tools for Online Learning
For consistent communication, all grades will be utilizing Google Classroom next year. We will also be using additional resources for our K-2 students, including SeeSaw and Class Dojo. Additionally, for 6th-12 th grade, the Board approved a robust online curriculum called SchoolsPLP , conditional upon staff’s final review of the contract, while the elementary teachers and parents on the Steering Committee continue to examine a similar platform for elementary classrooms. All of these tools will provide teachers with improved options to deliver online instruction and will be helpful for parents as they support their children.
Attendance and Grading
Last March when we moved to online learning, we were flexible with students and with teachers as we all learned to operate in this new digital environment. That was critical with the quick move to distance learning, but we are moving forward with high expectations for school this year. Just as we operate in regular school, having students be present is critical to their success, so we expect students to attend every class, on time, every day. Additionally, our teachers will teach to the standards and hold students to the same academic expectations we have always had, while helping all students to achieve by supporting them along the way with new tools that assess progress and assign grades as they were assigned back in 2019.
Special Education
We have had a group of parents and special education staff working together on our Special Education subcommittee developing strategies and plans to support students receiving Special Education services. While the subcommittee focused on best practices for distance learning, those services can be delivered in one of our high needs hybrids, and can be delivered in every day instruction. The subcommittee is finalizing a parent survey and will hold a Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC) meeting on August 11 at 3:30 p.m. on Zoom. Please look for additional details in the upcoming week.
Professional Development for Teachers, Employees (and Parents!)
Our teachers learned so much last year about teaching online, and we know we need to continue to get better in this new environment. We are plan to support teachers and employees with professional development in the following areas:
  • Best Practices in Online Teaching
  • Online Curriculum Platforms (such as SchoolsPLP)
  • Google Classroom
  • Zoom
  • Screencastify
  • Safety and Sanitizing
This list will grow as we identify topics that will help our teachers support our students throughout the year. Additionally, training modules for parents to help support their students with SchoolsPLP and Google Classroom will also be provided. We have learned so much, and we have more learning to do!
Bell Schedules
We discussed several different possible bell schedules at the Board meeting on Wednesday night, and we are in discussions with our teachers’ union to develop plans that best meet student needs. We hope to provide information about those schedules soon, as our parents and our employees are eager to know what it will look like next year.
Preparing for the Return of Students and Staff to our Campuses
With our 5-phase plan, we are expecting and planning for students and staff to return to our campuses this year. We all hope it is sooner rather than later, and we are working for that day whenever it comes. The county and state have given us a checklist of over 100 preparations we must make before students and staff may return to campus. If you go to the last part of our Board presentation , you can see many of the tasks (but not all) that we are meticulously working on now. It will give you an idea of the magnitude of the challenges ahead for all of us. And as I have said, we will be ready when it is time to start moving beyond Phase 1.
Preschool and Child Care
The Board affirmed its intent to open our Preschool, subject to several different issues that we are working to finalize. To re-open the Preschool, we will put into place many of the operational protocols we have been developing, and we will learn lessons we can use as we move beyond Phase 1 in our TK-12 schools.
We are also developing plans to open a child care program (EDP), prioritizing parents who are essential workers and district employees who need child care to perform their jobs. We will have an initial review of possibilities at our August 12 board meeting and a report out to the community after that.
Moving Forward
Our Steering Committee and our various subcommittees have been outstanding in their contributions towards our re-opening efforts, and I have appreciated hearing from every person who is writing us and advising us on the steps that best work for them and for our students. Response has been passionate and overwhelming, and I am grateful to each parent, employee, and student who has advocated for either a return to school or for the continuation of distance learning. All these opinions matter and we are considering each and every one of them in what we do. I firmly believe that at this time, and with where the virus is in our community right now, the 5-phase plan is right for our District and our community.
Thank you for your efforts, stay safe, and I will update you soon on next steps.
From Dr. Matthews' July 20 Newsletter to the MBUSD Community:
On Wednesday, I sent out my most recent newsletter , discussing our process as we determine how we will reopen on August 26, 2020. Since then, there have been many critical conversations across the state, the nation, and the world regarding what our schools will look like when they open in August. 
On Thursday, LA County Department of Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer spoke to all LA County superintendents. While falling short of ordering schools to open in distance learning mode, she stated:
  • As long as there is a high rate of community transmission, reopening any sector, including schools, comes with increased risk and increased spread. If schools reopen as scheduled in August, they would be reopening at a time when we are seeing a peak increase in infections. Schools that reopen in August need to be prepared for outbreaks, even if you allow all of the directives.
  • With exception of Sweden, which never really shut down, schools that reopened did so when transmission rates were low. No one opened schools at height of the pandemic, and all countries saw an increase in transmission when schools reopened.
  • Researchers are still learning a lot about the virus. None of us should rush to conclusions about children and asymptomatic spread. Standing on hallowed ground of certainty does not make sense. The idea that children do not get sick is inaccurate. I do know that children get sick, and children transmit.
On Friday, Governor Newsom announced criteria on school reopening that all but guarantee we will begin the academic year in remote learning models. In partnership with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), Governor Newsom also provided  revised guidance  and a detailed  framework  for reopening schools this fall. Accordingly, in order for in-person instruction to resume, counties must experience 14 consecutive days off the California Department of Public Health’s COVID-19  Monitoring List . As of today, Los Angeles County is still identified as one of the local areas that does not meet the criteria to reopen schools with an in-person format. 
In speaking with a variety of medical and educational professionals, no one believes that we will be moving from the height of the pandemic to the lower and more stable numbers required for in-person school by MBUSD’s start date on August 26. Many estimate our physical return to campuses between early October to January, but it will all depend on whether we as individuals, and as a society, start to abide by the recommended safety guidelines. Getting back to in-person school will take all of us working together.
Please know that our Steering Committee is continuing to work on in-person hybrid models which we will implement at the appropriate time. During this Wednesday’s board meeting (click here to see the agenda; click here to watch it live) , we will be discussing a phased plan that follows the Governor’s directive, begins with distance learning, and eventually phases in a hybrid in-school learning program. We will be discussing a distance learning program that stresses classroom consistency, ensuring teaching with appropriate levels of rigor, requiring daily live interaction, and supporting age-appropriate student progress through the District’s grade-level content standards. We are also seeking best practices to address our students’ social and emotional needs, which can be a challenge in a distance learning format. Committee members, made up of teachers, students, and parents, are reviewing several on-line learning platforms to support teachers and students in distance learning, which will be used in conjunction with our curriculum. We will continue to share learning opportunities for teachers, and provide MBUSD training on the most important distance learning tools throughout the summer and the school year.
When school begins, we must ensure that there are appropriate procedures in place to monitor student attendance and participation in remote learning, and to provide for follow-up when students are not engaged. We also anticipate a return to standard marks and grades, which will involve ongoing discussions related to accountability and assessment measures. 
Thank you again for your patience and support as we work to fully understand the impact of new state guidelines for schools and school districts.
From Dr. Matthews' July 15 Newsletter to the MBUSD Community:
I hope this email finds you safe and enjoying one of the most unique summers that any of us has ever experienced. Like most of you, my family is not traveling this summer, and we are doing our best to enjoy the area where we live. And through all of it, we in MBUSD are working very hard to determine what learning will look like when we start school on August 26.
Over the last several weeks, many districts announced their plans for return with a “hybrid” model that follows county and local guidelines and allows for smaller groups of students on campus in order to maintain safe social distancing practices. Districts have also explained their plans for continuous cleaning and for determining how students and staff will enter and exit each site. Most districts also outlined a distance learning model for families who want or need that option too.
As most of you know, we have a steering committee and two large subcommittees reviewing all of the issues surrounding how we re-open schools (click here for information on those groups). Our committees have been working on hybrid and distance learning plans as well, but have held off on finalizing any decisions until the LA County Department of Public Health guidelines were published, which occurred on Monday. We are still diligently preparing a hybrid plan and distance learning plan, and we will be examining both options at our July 22 board meeting, and plans will be approved at the July 29 meeting.
In the last few days, there has been a lot of information released and many changes announced. Here in Manhattan Beach, and certainly across the county, COVID-19 infection and hospitalization rates are increasing. The fact that the United States is one of the worst trending nations in the world is most concerning, and in California, the Governor issued orders on Monday closing down a number of sectors that had been previously reopened. This week, there has also been so much news related to schools specifically. First we heard that both LAUSD and SDUSD are starting the year in distance learning, a big departure from their previously announced plans for hybrid learning. Next came a press conference from the LA County Department of Health and LACOE, which raised as many questions as it answered. This was quickly followed by the release of the LA County Department of Public Health guidelines, which contain detailed information about operational requirements for re-opening. Many districts, including Santa Ana, Santa Monica–Malibu, Beverly Hills, Culver City, Anaheim and more have followed the lead of the larger districts and have announced a distance learning model for the start of school. On a call I had with all superintendents from Los Angeles County today, nearly three quarters of the districts reported that they will be begin the year in full distance learning. And in a press briefing today, State Superintendent Tony Thurmond emphasized multiple times that the California Department of Education applauds districts' decision to start the year in a distance learning model, and said, "I do think that if school had to open tomorrow, most of our districts would open with distance learning, and that decision, I think, is a good one." Every district that has previously announced plans is being forced to reevaluate its proposal due to all of these unforeseen developments.
For MBUSD, please know that the charge of our steering committee to reopen schools remains exactly the same. We will continue to discuss how we will conduct distance learning, while also looking at options for elementary and secondary hybrid models where a portion of the students are on campus and other students are receiving distance learning. We are not discussing any plans where all students return to school at the same time, as that clearly does not meet the requirements set by the LA County Department of Public Health. I invite you to watch the discussion of each option at the Board’s July 22 meeting, and the presentation of a final recommendation at the Board's July 29 meeting.
I have received many emails urging us to open schools, and I have received many emails asking us to delay starting a hybrid model until we can ensure the safety of all students and staff. While there is no directive to close schools and go to distance learning only here in LA County, things are changing rapidly. As I told our steering committee yesterday, even if there is an order to go to distance learning, we still have to develop a solid model for hybrid learning to utilize when we can open schools.
I know the uncertainty is stressful for everyone. Right now, the only thing we all have control over is our own personal decisions to practice social distancing and to wear a mask. Please don't be part of the problem. Do your part every time you are around other people.
Whatever our plans, I am confident that we will begin the school year with an instructional model that will provide for strong teaching and learning, provide appropriate accountability and rigor, and set up structures to support students' academic and emotional needs. Thank you for your patience and support, and I will continue to communicate as we march toward August 26.
From Dr. Matthews' June 26 Newsletter to the MBUSD Community:
In an effort to keep the community informed about our decision-making process to reopen schools in 2020-21, I am writing to update you with some key pieces of information:
  • Our Steering Committee and elementary and secondary subcommittees are formed, and are meeting regularly. Thank you to everyone who applied. We had over 200 people interested in these committees! You can see the members selected here: steeringsecondaryelementary.
  • We were all hoping that the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health would release their Order on procedures to reopen schools earlier this week. Unfortunately, that release has been delayed by at least a week, and possibly two. The Health Department’s Order will establish the minimum level of procedures for all LA County schools to follow. We will not be able to finalize our school opening procedures until that Order is released, but our committees will still be meeting to review other relevant protocols and procedures.
  • Our committees will be using guidance and resources from a wide variety of agencies and experts, as they are working on five major areas for re-opening our schools:
    • Health and Safety
    • Instruction (Both Distance and In-Person)
    • Social and Emotional Supports
    • Family and Community Engagement
    • Operations (HR, Facilities, Budgeting, Nutrition, Technology)
  • This week the State agreed upon a budget that is less harmful to MBUSD than the Governor’s May budget would have been. For that reason, we are recommending a budget for 2020-21 that does not include additional reductions beyond the ones we already approved in March. The budget also contains strong language advocating for students to return to some form of in-school learning in August. That said, if circumstances do not allow for students to return to school, we are beginning discussions about laying off classified employees in positions where their assigned responsibilities cannot be completed in a distance learning environment.
  • Our return to school committees and our Medical Advisory Board both discussed the importance of wearing face coverings. There is an LA Times article today about the recent uptick in cases, particularly among our younger people. This is preventable, and I want to take this time to urge all of us to remain vigilant! I have received several emails criticizing our senior graduates, who, after the 10-hour MBUSD-sponsored graduation ceremony which adhered to Health Department guidelines, met on the beach for an unauthorized and non-district sponsored gathering. This type of event puts all of us in danger. The health advice from the County is there for a reason - not wearing face coverings and not honoring social distancing protocols creates risks for every member of our community. We are still in the first wave of COVID-19, and all of the medical professionals I speak with are still concerned. Please protect yourself, protect those you interact with, and protect our community by following the advice and directives from our Governor, Health Department, and practically every scientific/medical source I have read by wearing a face covering and practicing appropriate social distancing. And while we’re at it, let’s keep washing our hands regularly for the rest of our lives.
From Dr. Matthews' June 4 Newsletter to the MBUSD Community:
  • No matter what we do in the fall, it will be different from our distance learning experience we have experienced since March 16.
  • Thank you to the thousands of you who took the time to complete one of our surveys. You can see my board presentation on that data here, or you can see the full results here for teachersclassified staffparents, and secondary students.
  • Based on this data, we know that we will need a distance learning program for 20% of our families who at this point are not willing to send their children to school. Of course, that could go up or down depending on what we know in August.
  • The critical question for our district is the same question that every other district is wrestling with: How can we safely open our campuses for our students and employees next year?
  • Our next step is to hold two town hall meetings for employees and parents. Anyone from the MBUSD community can submit a question for the Board and my senior Cabinet to answer during the town hall. 
  • The elementary town hall meeting regarding grades TK-5 will be on Monday, June 8, from 4:30 to 6:00. Click here to submit questions and click here to watch the town hall.
  • The secondary town hall meeting regarding grades 6-12 will be on Tuesday, June 9, from 4:30 to 6:00. Click here to submit questions and click here to watch the town hall.
  • Finally, we will be forming a steering committee with an elementary and a secondary subcommittee to make recommendations on how we reopen schools next year. Click here to learn more about that.
From Dr. Matthews' May 28 Newsletter to the MBUSD Community:
MBUSD, along with almost all districts around the country, is using this document and more, as we study two general options for how we could open next year.
Option A: Returning to school
I referred to Option A in my last newsletter. I think it is the option that most of us want to see, as we are all hoping to get back to normal as soon as possible. But Option A is not yet "normal school." It would be a return to campus, but in a limited fashion. It could mean students being on campus for mornings or afternoons only. It could mean students coming to campus for one or two days a week only. It could mean students coming to campus every other week. In all of these scenarios, we are reducing the number of students who are on campus and in classrooms at any one time so that we can socially distance and promote the safety of students and staff. And if we do proceed with an Option A, some families will choose not to send their children to school based upon their own assessments of the level of risk and their personal family situations. Appropriate accommodations will need to be made for these students.
Option B: Continuing Distance Learning
Option B remains the distance learning model. We would look for a more robust version of what we have now, building upon all that we have learned in these last three months in our distance learning instruction. While we changed our grading policy to limit the harm that could occur with student grades in this semester’s distance learning, next year would be a year of full accountability.
And even if we go to Option A, until a vaccine is developed, there is a chance that there will be a second or third wave or spike in COVID-19 cases locally, and we would need to shut down a classroom, a school or all schools and return to distance learning for a certain segment of time. That means we have to be ready for distance learning no matter what.
Moving Forward
So how are we going to make this decision?
  • Surveys: Later today, I will email surveys for students, for staff, for teachers, and for parents. For parents, you can submit one response or you can fill one out for each child. We will use this data, sharing it with the Board and our community as we move forward.
  • Town Hall Meetings: We will hold virtual meetings with our parents and with our staffs at each school, sharing the results of the survey, reviewing viable options, and answering questions. I have been working with a few PTAs doing this type of meeting, and I believe it’s a good way to exchange information. Dates on those will be coming out soon, but expect them in the first two weeks of June.
  • Steering Committees: We will form two steering committees, one for secondary schools and one for elementary schools, comprised of parent leaders, teacher leaders, our unions, site and district administrators, and students (on the secondary committee) to learn from the feedback from the surveys, to review any changes in what the Health Department is recommending, to examine plans being developed and implemented around the area and around the country, to investigate other alternatives, and to recommend re-opening options and plans to the Board.
  • Implementation: In late July or early August, the Board will make the determination on whether and how we will re-open our schools.
I know that people would like to see a plan in place right now, but I firmly believe there is just too much changing in the next few months for us to commit to a plan as of today. We hope scientists learn more about the disease itself. We will learn as we see whether there is a second spike of confirmed cases as more and more of our businesses, parks, and beaches open. If there is no significant spike, perhaps restrictions will loosen, making it easier for us to open schools. There are so many factors still to be considered, and we need to study all of them.
Whatever option we choose, we will have our children’s and our staff’s safety first in mind. We all want our schools to re-open, but we want to do so in line with the recommendations from the County Department of Health and the state.