Santa Monica public schools will close indefinitely amid the coronavirus pandemic, as will L.A. County beaches, beach bike paths and public trails, officials said.
Supt. Ben Drati said Thursday night that the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District is following directives from Gov. Gavin Newsom and L.A. County officials and will close until further notice. Newsom said earlier this month that he believes schools across the state will not be able to reopen this school year.
SMMUSD students will continue to learn online and the district will keep serving grab-and-go breakfast and lunch between and 10 a.m. at four campuses, Drati said.
“We had originally stated that we would be closed until April 20, but this is likely not possible,” Drati said in an email to families. “We will monitor the status of the situation carefully and will reopen as directed.”
Drati said the district will next week give devices and internet to all students who need them, and asked families to continue notifying their school if they need a device or WiFi. Earlier this week, the district announced a partnership with internet startup Wander to provide all students with free internet.
While schools are closed, elementary students are expected to complete learning packets and participate in online learning, and secondary students must submit assignments online and communicate with their teachers by email or phone, said Jacqueline Mora, assistant superintendent of educational services.
L.A. County officials ordered Friday all beaches, beach access, beach bike paths and trails to be closed to the public. The order came several days after City Manager Rick Cole closed Santa Monica’s beach parking lots to stop large crowds from congregating on the beach and spreading coronavirus.
“Santa Monicans cherish our walks on our beach, but we are complying with County Health recommendations to protect all of us and our families from preventable exposure to illness,” said Mayor Kevin McKeown in a statement. “The beach is a regional resource, and we’re all part of the regional effort to flatten the curve of COVID-19. We can still get our exercise and fresh air while avoiding congregating in crowds and maintaining six feet of physical distance. Otherwise, we’re all safer at home.”
City of Santa Monica parks are still open, but Palisades Park will close at least through Saturday and Sunday to coincide with the beach closure.
“We have monitored the park all this week and while well-used, we have seen most people practicing physical distancing,” Cole said in an email. “We will re-examine whether to keep the park closed next week (and) are finalizing how we will enforce the closure now.”
The city’s public buildings, nonessential businesses, playgrounds, Santa Monica Pier and beach parking lots remain closed under state and county orders for people to stay home unless they are accessing vital services or performing essential work.
Cole on Monday announced fines for individuals and businesses violating the stay at home orders that range from $100 to $1,000, and on Thursday announced that public buildings will be closed through April 30.
A moratorium on residential and commercial evictions Cole enacted earlier this month remains in effect as the crisis devastates the local economy, and on Thursday the city also suspended rent payments for businesses that hold outdoor dining permits with the city, pier businesses that are city tenants and, at the discretion of city officials, other city tenants whose business activities have been suspended due to public health orders.
“We need everyone to use common sense to help flatten the curve. The situation is changing by the day, sometimes by the hour. City government is working to enforce State and County orders fairly and consistently,” Cole said in a statement. “We are acutely aware of the adverse impact on our residents, businesses and workers and ask for patience, good will and neighborliness so we get through this together.”
Three news cases of coronavirus were reported in Santa Monica Thursday, bringing the city’s total number of confirmed cases to 21. The total number of cases in L.A. County topped 1,200, with 11 deaths.