It is time to decide:

In-Person Hybrid or
Distance Learning?

October 30, 2020
 
 
Dear Elementary School Parents,
 
As I wrote to you earlier, I applied last week for the TK-2 waivers being issued by the Los Angeles County Department of Health. They are only granting 30 per week, though I have been pushing the county to open up the process and grant the waivers to all who apply. I do not know when our waivers will be granted, but we are in the final stages of preparing for our students' return to campus.
 
We are learning a great deal from school re-openings around the country, from medical studies being conducted on those re-openings, and from our own re-openings in child care and the high needs hybrid. Using what we have learned, we have reached a conceptual agreement with our classified and certificated unions, and with their support we applied for a TK-2 waiver last Friday. The TK-2 return plan allows for gradually increasing amounts of time on campus with safety protocols in place.
Below are the proposed phase-in schedules, which have the following characteristics:
 
  • Reduce the number of students and teachers on campus at one time
  • Use the cohort model, dividing the students in a class in half, to allow for maximum social distancing in the classroom
  • Avoid having lunch on campus, as maintaining cohorts is most challenging during the lunch period
  • Allow the District ample time to complete all cleaning/sanitizing tasks, and to gain practical experience in how long these tasks take, allowing the District to better prepare for wider openings
  • Employ all of the safety elements described in our Health And Safety Protocols document
  • Allow us all to start slowly, and, as we feel confident about safety protocols, widen the openings

There are three stages to this plan:

  1. An AM schedule with one half-day per week of in-person learning for students
  2. An AM schedule with two half-days per week of in-person learning for students
  3. An AM/PM schedule with four half-days/week of in-person learning for students

As we move through each stage, we will continually reevaluate the schedules and instructional delivery models and adjust based on our experiences.

Initial Schedule: We will begin with a schedule where there are two days a week at school for teachers and one day a week at school for students. Here is the schedule.
AB schedule
AA/BB Schedule: After three weeks, if we are able to demonstrate the achievement of predetermined and agreed upon safety levels, we will transition to an expanded schedule, where teachers on are on campus four days a week at school, and students on are campus two days a week.
AABB schedule
AM/PM Schedule: After we experience success with an AA/BB schedule, we may consider transitioning to an AM/PM schedule where students are on campus either four mornings a week or four afternoons a week. In this schedule, the instructional blocks may be shortened and/or lengthened in order to ensure proper cleaning and provide equity for both groups of students.
 
The idea of returning to school stirs up different emotions in each of us. While we may have different opinions about the best schedules to follow, or the ways in which we might implement the many different facets of our re-opening plans, we stand united in our commitment to providing the best possible education for our students and to creating a safe return to in-person teaching and learning for staff and students.
 
Last week, I asked for your thoughts on what you would be requesting for your child. Now I need to know what your decision is for each child. We know that some families have a household member with a condition that could be endangered by a child attending in-person school, and we know that some families just are not ready to attend. This will not be a simple process, as many factors go into it:

  • Some children will be unable to return to in-person instruction because they or a family member have a condition that could be endangered by attending in-person school.
  • Some families may have other reasons to request that their child continue distance learning.
  • Distance learning should look exactly like the distance learning you have experienced in the first ten weeks of this school year.
  • For those who choose in-person hybrid learning, if there are confirmed positive cases among staff or students attending in person, students who may have been exposed to those cases will need to stay home and/or be quarantined, and students may be returning to distance learning during those times.
  • There will be some teacher changes. If a child attends in-person, but the teacher remains in distance learning, we will need to place the child into a different class. If a child opts for distance learning, but the teacher is in-person, we will need to place the child into a different class. I believe that in all cases, no child attending in-person learning will be changing schools.
  • Because these changes are significant, we are only going to make them once. So, this is a choice for the entire year.

Here is the survey where you can let us know your choice for each of your children. Even though we will not be allowed to open for grades 3-5 yet, we would like to plan as if the county will open TK-5 in the near future, so we want parents of all students in grades TK-5 to respond to this survey. We have developed an FAQ page, and we will update it as I receive your questions (to submit a question, please do so here). On the survey form, you will have to choose either distance learning or in-person hybrid learning. I do ask a separate question that asks you to indicate whether, if possible, you would like to stay with your child’s current teacher, meaning that you would like your child to be enrolled in whatever learning model your child's current teacher is assigned to, in order to keep your child with their current teacher.

For some of you this is an easy choice, but for others, it will be challenging. I do not think there is a wrong choice, and we will make it work whatever your choice is.

Thank you. I look forward to seeing your responses, and I look forward to a gradual and safe reopening.
 
With respect and gratitude,
Mike Matthews
MBUSD Superintendent
Manhattan Beach Unified School District

325 S. Peck Avenue
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
310.318.7345