Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District offices (File photo)

Leaders of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District announced a possible change to the start of the school year in a letter sent to parents Wednesday afternoon.

SMMUSD officials have been readying for Thursday, Aug. 20, the originally planned start day for the Fall 2020 semester, since Superintendent Ben Drati first declared in the Spring that the school year would start as planned in August. At the time, district stakeholders hoped for a possible return to in-person classes, but Drati and the board agreed in late July that it was best for students to return in August using a distance learning format.

On Wednesday, Drati stated SMMUSD is looking to change schools’ starting date to Monday, Aug. 24.

“Our team is working hard to create a robust distance learning program for all students this fall,” the letter states, adding: “We are in the process of finalizing a memorandum of understanding with the Santa Monica-Malibu Classroom Teachers Association that includes expectations regarding various aspects of distance learning… One component of the MOU is professional learning and the appropriate number of days to fully train and empower our teachers with the necessary skills and tools to successfully teach remotely this fall.”

As a result, the district is considering adding two days of professional development in addition to the previously planned three days, which would potentially move the school start date to Monday, Aug. 24, Drati added in the letter, mentioning this will also add two days to the end of the school year in June.

“We understand that families are anxious for more information regarding distance learning, expectations, potential child care, schedules and more,” Drati said, sharing the district’s board of education will discuss and take action on the MOU during its upcoming meeting on Thursday, Aug. 13. “We are finalizing all details and will have more information for you soon.”

brennon@smdp.com