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In light of the current rise in COVID-19 cases, SMMUSD Superintendent Ben Drati will discuss the District’s adjusted timeline for choosing a reopening plan in a Nov. 19 School Board meeting.

During the meeting, which will take place at 5:30 p.m. over Zoom, Drati will also provide information about the process to appoint a new School Board member as Oscar de la Torre will be leaving the board for City Council.

The special board meeting to select a reopening model has been postponed from Nov. 19 to Dec. 17. Drati’s update on the reopening plan process is scheduled for an hour following the completion of major action items.

“This item will provide the Board of Education as a whole an opportunity to hear from Dr. Drati regarding an update on the COVID-19 status in our county as well as our district’s reopening strategies and timeline,” the agenda states. “The board members will also have an opportunity to ask the Superintendent questions as well as share their opinions on the topic, both personal and those garnered from stakeholders.”

The board has discussed two models of reopening: a hybrid in-person and remote model and an entirely online model with special activities on campus.

It was previously assumed that L.A. County could enter Tier 2 of reopening by January and be allowed to reopen schools. Given the recent spike in cases and tier rollbacks across the state, this is now highly unlikely.

In a Nov 13. letter to the community Drati said, “we are learning that there is a high degree of anxiety about coming back for in-person, on-campus instruction; divergent views on the hybrid approach and its potential impact on teaching and learning; and many other questions to still address.”

As a result of this uncertainty and the rise in cases, stakeholders meetings are convening this week and next week with teachers, staff, and parents. Initial feedback and queries arising from these meetings are expected to be discussed during Drati’s update.

The upcoming School Board vacancy will be discussed in the Superintendent’s report toward the beginning of the meeting.

De la Torre, who clinched the fourth spot in the City Council race, plans to announce his resignation when election results are certified by the County on Nov. 30. Following de la Torre’s letter of resignation, the board will have 60 days to fill the position.

The position will be filled via an appointment process including accepting applications, interviewing candidates, and making the selection at a board meeting. The appointment is expected at the Jan. 14, 2021 School Board meeting, according to District PIO Gail Pinsker.

Members of the public who wish to make a public comment at the upcoming meeting can do so by completing a Google survey sign up. The survey can be found online at tinyurl.com/y4nfca4k and will be open 30 minutes prior to the meeting.

Clara@smdp.com