Students who return to local schools for in-person education on March 15 will have about two weeks to readjust to live learning before officials plan to increase the number of classroom hours district wide.

According to plans filed with state and regional regulators, SMMUSD plans to move to a hybrid learning model after Spring Break (March 29 – April 9) and schools will ramp up in-person instruction hours as best they can on a per site basis.

“For the two weeks prior to Spring Break, the elementary schools will begin by offering 1-2 time blocks on campus for in-person learning. These two weeks will offer schools an opportunity to ease students back onto campus and practice procedures, routines, and protocols with students as they adjust to the return to school,” said the districts COVID-19 School Guidance Checklist. “Following this transition back to campus, after Spring Break school sites will ramp up their Distance Learning Plus model by gradually, and as quickly as possible with safety in mind, expanding their on-campus offerings to up to 4 time blocks on campus during the week for a robust Hybrid Distance Learning Model”

The Checklist is one of several documents that the District has to file with the State and County Departments of Public Health to allow schools to reopen. In addition to the instruction outline, SMMUSD has submitted a 105 page safety plan outlining measures taken to prevent the spread of coronavirus on local school sites.

According to the Checklist, individual school sites will have some flexibility in how they bring students back but all schools will aim for the same number of hours of in-person instruction. Options include splitting classes into a.m. and p.m. groups with one group in person while the other is distance learning, all students coming to class in the afternoon with everyone distance learning in the morning or a split week model with some students coming to class Monday/Tuesday and others coming in on Thursday/Friday.

While schools can choose which model works best for their community, all models would result in about the same hours of in person instruction and in all cases, the plans call for increasing in-person hours to the safest possible maximum. The final amount of in-class instruction is going to vary due to changing case counts and the corresponding restrictions imposed by county or state officials.

Staff said that more hours could be possible if, for example, distancing requirements were reduced but there’s no way to predict when or even if that might happen.

District officials and representatives from the Santa Monica Malibu Classroom Teachers Association have been negotiating over the expanded programs for several days. Once a tentative deal is reached, SMMCTA membership will have to vote on the terms before it becomes official.

editor@smdp.com