County officials are outlining steps for reopening schools. Courtesy photo.

The 2020-21 Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District school year will start on August 20. Of that much, the district is certain. However, every other detail is still up for debate.

As schools continue to adapt to the changes forced on them by the ongoing coronavirus crisis, state, county and local officials have begun to plan for the upcoming school year but those plans are still in the formative stages.

The Los Angeles County Office of Education released a 45 page report this week outlining possibilities for the year including three kinds of educational system: Face to Face, Hybrid and Distance.

In the Face to Face model, the teacher and the student meet physically in a set place for a set time for either one-on-one learning or, most commonly, in group classroom lessons with social distancing and health and safety measures in place. This would be essentially a return to normal operations with some additional restrictions.

Distance Learning describes the situation for most students at the end of this year with students and teachers separated by time and distance and therefore unable to meet in a traditional physical classroom setting.

The Hybrid Learning approach combines elements of both.

SMMUSD Superintendent Dr. Ben Drati said a hybrid approach could work locally.

“Variations being discussed under this hybrid approach are consideration of an alternating schedule throughout the week where a group of students stay home and a group are in school on any given school day,” he said in a letter to parents. “Another variation of a hybrid model being discussed in the county is a version of a half day schedule where a group of students come in the morning and another group attend in the afternoon.”

The county report recommends schools that do incorporate physical learning do so with restrictions based on health guidelines. The document says the school day should allow time for hand washing, limit travel on school grounds to prevent crowding, consider health screens or temperature checks, require face masks and lower class size to provide more space in the classroom.

Drati said SMMUSD will be considering its options in the coming weeks and will provide more information when it is available. While County officials have released their guidelines, state regulators are still working on their reopening recommendations.

“I realize many people are expecting more specific details to what school will look like when we open, but this is the most I can provide to you at this moment,” Drati said in the letter. “I know that you may be anxious and that is understandable. The situation is fluid and the needs of each community are different in terms of child care and access to all necessary tools and environment to maximize a student’s learning experience while keeping student and staff health at the forefront. More details will be shared as the information and refinement of our plans evolve.”

To view the county report, visit

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *