School reopening march

Open Up SMM Schools, a new advocacy group, is announcing plans to March For Our Students on Saturday March 13. The date coincides with the one-year anniversary of school closures across the country. But parents are not marching in celebration. Despite LA County Guidelines permitting schools to reopen, all SMMUSD schools remain closed.

Over three weeks ago, schools in Los Angeles County were eligible to reopen for grades TK-6, according to the LA Department of Public Health Guidelines, but the Santa Monica Malibu School District did not open.

Yesterday, Los Angeles County entered the red tier, which means High Schools and Middle Schools are also eligible to return to campus on March 23. However, no plans have been announced by SMMUSD to return the 6-12 grade students to their campuses. Parents are growing increasingly frustrated and angry. “There has been no firm commitment or plan from our administration to return all students for core academic learning,” said Harriet Fraser, Co-Founder of OpenUpSMM. “The principals at elementary campuses have been told to make their own decisions about how to open their campuses. This lack of leadership is causing widespread inequities across the district and creating unrest among parents, teachers and our community.”

Edison parent Noelle Lewis says “I moved to Santa Monica to be in the school district for the educational benefits for my son, it was and is still a financial sacrifice. The city left it up to school principals to make critical decisions about reopening schools; it is chaos. Our principal has suppressed our rights to on-campus teaching and kept the Zoom classrooms. You wonder why this happened to our school, with the most students of color in the District. It just feels like we are being left behind again and given less than others.”

Adding to the frustration is the fact that in February, the SMMCTA local teachers’ union made an agreement with SMMUSD to return to in-person teaching 15 days after being offered the vaccination. The vaccine was provided on March 1, and the Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Ben Drati, made a commitment to open elementary schools on March 15. “We were thrilled that the teachers were being vaccinated, and we were excited when this was announced,” said Gayle Gilman. “But now parents are being told that there will only be a single orientation day next week. It’s really disappointing that again the District has delayed our return to school.”

OpenUpSMM hopes that joining with parents and students on the anniversary of school closures will bring attention to the importance of returning students to school NOW. “We want the District Administration and the School Board to understand how critical it is on so many levels to return our students to school,” said Fraser.

Visit for more information.


• 9:30 a.m. Gather at Historic Belmar Park 1840 4th St (parking at Civic Center)

• 10:30 a.m. March will begin at the Belmar Park sign on 4th St., and proceed up the north side of Pico Blvd to Virginia Park

• 11:15 a.m. Join us for a Rally on the East side of the park (the northwest corner of Pico and Cloverfield)

This is a family event, adults and children welcome. Masks required for all participants. Social distancing will be observed.

Submitted by Harriet Fraser,