The 2023-24 academic year at Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District is the first to begin a return to normalcy, after the COVID-19 pandemic triggered several district protocols.
Thursday’s regular meeting of the SMMUSD Board of Education will continue discussions related to COVID-19 resolutions rescinded at the board’s Aug. 3 meeting. At that meeting, the board gave six yes votes (with Board President Maria Leon-Vazquez absent) to rescind two prior resolutions, one that enacted a COVID-19 vaccine requirement for district employees, and another that enacted mandatory surveillance testing for district students. Thursday’s discussion will allow Board Member Stacy Rouse to explain a request to reconsider language in the resolutions, particularly as it pertains to Level II volunteers in the district.
The first resolution relating to district employees was adopted on March 9, 2022, replacing health and safety protocols previously adopted on Aug. 10, 2021. The resolution adopted protocols for vaccination for district employees, surveillance testing for employees with approved vaccine exemptions, and adopted a mandatory testing policy for district employees that required evidence of a negative COVID-19 test at the start of the school year.
For students, the March 2022 resolution adopted COVID-19 protocols that included weekly surveillance testing for students requiring evidence of a negative COVID-19 test result to access district campuses and facilities. The resolution also “strongly recommended” students wear a face mask indoors.
Both resolutions were rescinded in August partly due to the end of public health emergencies related to COVID-19. In May, the World Health Organization declared an end to the COVID-19 public health emergency, with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services following suit the same month. Los Angeles County’s local public health emergency declaration for the disease ended on March 31.
Thursday’s school board meeting will also include a scheduled 45-minute session with an independent Financial Oversight Committee (FOC) regarding district financial matters. The FOC was appointed as part of requirements associated with annual funds given to SMMUSD by the City of Santa Monica, and the FOC will be giving an annual report to the district board.
The FOC formed seven subcommittees for the 2022-23 fiscal year, with each subcommittee to present a year-end update on progress and recommendations for potential areas of focus in the 2023-24 school year. The subcommittees presenting findings on Thursday will include budget recommendations, tax revenue and assessed valuation, bond oversight, and financial communication and reporting.
A resolution adopting recognition of National Hispanic/Latino Heritage Month will also be brought to the district board, with the month recognized from September 15 through October 15. The resolution states that SMMUSD will join “with all Americans in celebrating this rich and diverse culture, and encourages all members of our community to recognize the important role of Hispanics in creating and building this great nation.” The resolution also states that “appropriate lessons and units of study about the contributions of Americans of Hispanic/Latino descent” will take place not just during the month, but throughout the school year.
School Board will meet on Thursday, Sept. 7 at 5:30 p.m. in the district offices (1717 4th St.).