On Dec. 17, the Board of Education will vote on the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District’s staff recommendation to adopt a ‘distance learning plus’ reopening plan for when L.A. County enters Tier 2 of COVID restrictions.

As L.A. County currently remains in Tier 1 the District is offering limited in-person special education services and awaiting approval to open Transitional Kindergarten through Grade 2 through the County’s waiver program. If the waiver is granted further discussions with parents and staff are necessary before expanding Tier 1 in-person offerings. 

Once the County enters Tier 2, SMMUSD will have the option to open in-person hybrid instruction TK through Grade 12, but is not planning on taking it.

Following months of stakeholder deliberations, staff decided a distance learning plus model is the best way to meet the collective interests of “social-emotional connections on campus; maintaining connection to classmates, staff, and school community; continuity of academic support and instruction; and health and safety precautions during the pandemic,” according to the meeting agenda.

Under this model students will maintain their current distance learning schedule and have the option to come on campus for ‘plus’ enrichment activities such as social emotional learning, outdoor fitness, academic support, and clubs.

While the District looked at adopting a hybrid model for Tier 2, the option was highly unpopular with staff who cited health and safety as their primary reopening concern. In a December survey 86 percent of staff said they preferred a distance learning model over a hybrid model.

Parents and students were more divided, but also expressed fear about the safety of a hybrid model. Parents were split fifty-fifty between preferring distance learning or preferring a hybrid model in the December survey, while 55 percent of students said they would prefer distance learning.

During this meeting the Board will also elect a President, Vice President, Annual Representative to the Los Angeles County School Trustees Association, a voting representative to elect members to the Los Angeles County Committee on School District Organization, and a California School Boards Association Delegate.

The Board will thank outgoing President Jon Kean and Vice President Laurie Lieberman, and recognize the departure of former board member Oscar de la Torre .

The School Board meeting will take place at 5:00 p.m. on Zoom. Members of the public who wish to make a public comment can do so by completing a Google survey sign up. The survey can be found online at https://tinyurl.com/ycr8dvuv and will be open 30 minutes prior to the meeting.

Clara@smdp.com