Cautious School Reopening

By Alyssa Erdley

Santa Monica's Elementary Schools Prepare Cautiously for a Phased-In 'Reopening' of 1-2 Days of In-Person Instruction Per Week Starting March 15

Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District reached an agreement with the teachers' union to 'reopen' the elementary schools with a target date of March 15. Reopening does not mean a full-on return to in-person instruction, however. Each site will have its own plan. According to Gail Pinsker, district spokesman, "schools are starting with one or two days a week" for the two weeks preceding Spring Break, which begins March 29. She said she was "unable to confirm" how much time students could spend at school for Roosevelt Elementary (or any other particular school) "as it's not the same for all schools."

According to Pinsker, elementary school students will return to campus following the two-week Spring Break with "more time on campus."

To be allowed on campus, students will be required to do an online "wellness screener." Once they arrive at the school site, they will receive a temperature check.

A 105-page Covid-19 Safety Plan outlines measure intended to prevent or contain the spread of the virus at the school campuses. Students will be limited in their engagement with peers to the number of children who can fit in a classroom while allowing 6 feet of separation between all individuals. (This is part of the reason students must be staggered in their participation on campus - because more classrooms are required than available to accommodate smaller class sizes.) Times will be set aside during the day for handwashing. And, of course, masks must be worn by students and staff at all times except for when eating.

If three students who are epidemiologically linked all contract Covid-19, the LA County Health Department will be notified and take additional measures, which may include closing the school again.

Families will be allowed to opt to continue distance learning and staff who are over 65 years old who are at greater risk for Covid-19 due to other health conditions will also be accommodated in being allowed to work remotely, though the exact mechanism for the latter situation is not well spelled out in district literature.


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