John Bowes

Superintendent's Newsletter
May 6, 2022
Dear MBUSD Families and Community,

I hope this letter finds you well. Today’s newsletter highlights Robinson Elementary School, Teacher Appreciation Week celebrations, details on the 5th Annual International Day, updated COVID-19 guidance, and much more!
Robinson poet
Spotlight on Robinson Elementary (Special thanks to Megan Montz, Kate Walsh, and Principal Jackie O'Sullivan)

Second-grade students at Robinson in Mrs. Montz and Mrs. Walsh's classes have been enjoying a Writing Unit on Poetry. They have been learning how to express themselves in creative ways, on a variety of topics, using their own life experiences as inspiration. The unit culminated in a Poetry Festival where students shared some of their original poems, in a "public speaking" format. Parents were invited to attend and both staff and parents were very proud!!
Robinson Poets
It's School Lunch Hero Day!
Thank you to our amazing Food and Nutrition Services team who work tirelessly to provide nutritious meals for our students throughout the year! To celebrate, special "American Hero" Rosati Ice desserts were served as part of lunch Wednesday for grades K-12, and Certificates of Recognition were given to every Food and Nutrition Services employee.
American Hero Ice
I want to extend my deepest appreciation to each and every one of you for your hard work and dedication to our students and families. You work tirelessly to ensure every child in our classrooms feels seen, heard, valued, and understood. As educators, your impact goes beyond the classroom and I want to thank you for your commitment to our students, our families, and each other. 
Staff Spotlight

This week, we are highlighting Eddie Marquez! He is our District mechanic. He services all of our aging vehicle fleets and also repairs everything from custodial equipment to grounds equipment. He also helps out whenever needed with other departments.

He started as a night side custodian, eventually became an irrigation technician, and now says he achieved his goal by being the head mechanic for MBUSD transportation. Eddie says he loves working with an amazing team.

Thank you for your service!

Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

In honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, students and staff from across our District are celebrating!

At Pennekamp Elementary, students created door murals honoring #AAPI heroes and events.
Students and our amazing parents worked hard to get the murals up before Pennekamp’s Open House!

The murals take you through California while students and visitors can learn about AAPI heroes, events, and landmarks. 
Join us! Meadows Elementary School Hosts AAPI Month Event
Students Perform at the 33rd Annual High School Choir Festival

The Mira Costa choir was among 500 high school students representing 18 schools at the recent High School Choir Festival hosted by the Los Angeles Master Chorale.

Members of the Los Angeles Master Chorale performed along with them at Grand Park and sang music by Sam Cook, Sara Bareilles, Reena Esmail, and Handel.

The Los Angeles Master Chorale brought back this annual event for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic.
Congratulations to Elementary Honor Groups

We had nearly 100 elementary students participate in two festivals recently. The Honor Choir, Honor Band, and Honor Strings received recognitions. The choir received a silver rating and the band received a gold rating at the Forum Festival. 

Honor Strings received a Superior rating at the Music in the Parks Festival.
Guest Speaker at the MBMS Jewish Cultural Club this Week

The club is now in its fourth week and student attendance has been growing! This week, Frank Meeink, a former Neo-Nazi, joined Rabbi Shlomo and shared his powerful story with students.
Anti-Semitic Graffiti Incident

Last weekend, we were made aware of a vandalism incident at Grand View Elementary that included a Nazi swastika painted on a wall. Our facilities team quickly painted over this repugnant graffiti and we alerted the Manhattan Beach Police Department and the FBI about it.
The District continues work with Manhattan Beach Police Department to make sure anyone who has taken part in any of the hate crimes that have occurred on our campuses is held accountable and faces consequences.
Hate and discrimination have no place on in our community or in our schools. Thank you again for your support in continuing to create a safe and welcoming environment for all students, staff, and families.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and it's a time to educate, support, and end the stigma on mental health. You are not alone and support is always available. 
COVID-19 Updates/Reminders 
We all have a shared interest in seeing the end of COVID in our community. Unfortunately, there has recently been an increase in case counts across the state and country. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LACDPH) reacted to this by creating more restrictive protocols for schools, which went into effect on May 4. The new county-wide protocols changed the definition of a close contact to include “anyone in the same indoor airspace.” This is a significant reversal from the more lenient requirements of self-monitoring for symptoms and self-testing previously in place. Now, exposures within the same shared indoor air space (e.g., a classroom) are required to mask for 10 days and test on day 3-5. LACDPH says these protocols are necessary as a result of increased cases among students and staff, as well as an increased number of outbreaks on school campuses. As you may know, LACDPH has determined that we currently have COVID outbreaks at both MBMS and Mira Costa. They are monitoring our COVID dashboard (you can view it here) and have imposed certain requirements on these schools.

I have heard frustrations from many of you about these developments. Please know that I am also concerned with the new LACDPH protocols. Regardless of one’s feelings about masks, the implementation of the current guidelines is extraordinarily challenging for our schools. The administrative burden alone is enormous.

We appreciate your partnership as we work to meet these new requirements, including determining which students are required to use a face covering while indoors and which are not, ensuring that those who are required to wear a mask are doing so consistently, tracking test results submitted by parents, and ensuring good communication about start and end dates for these various requirements.

We have asked for guidance that is more practical and reasonable for schools and that makes sense given the current status of the virus and our high vaccination rates. In the meantime, please help us to comply with LACDPH’s requirements. As a public agency, we are obligated to follow these new protocols while we advocate for the implementation of common sense rules and guidelines.
COVID-19 Exposure Guidance

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has updated its COVID-19 exposure guidance which went into effect Wednesday, May 4. We wanted to let you know the latest details.

Any student who has been exposed to COVID-19 at school and who is asymptomatic, regardless of their vaccination status, is not required to quarantine.

In order to remain on campus, students are REQUIRED to:

  • Test within 3-5 days after last exposure (PCR, antigen, at-home tests allowed).

LACDPH also revised the definition of a close contact to align with the updated California State guidance. A close contact is someone who shares the same indoor space at school with an infected person for 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period. This means that anyone in a classroom with a positive case is considered a close contact, regardless of masking or vaccination status. LACDPH guidelines do permit us to limit close contacts in large indoor air spaces such as MPR’s, cafeterias, and auditoriums (based on physical proximity and identifiable groups such as teams, club members, or cohorts), but not in other indoor spaces. 

A student with an outdoor exposure at school is not considered a close contact.
It is important to note that Cal/OSHA has not updated its standards, and close contact requirements for employees differ from those for students. 

For employees:

  • If the contact was in a shared indoor airspace and was more than 6’ away from the infected individual, the above guidelines apply. 

  • If the contact was within 6’ of the infected individual (whether indoors or outdoors), they may remain at work only if they are fully vaccinated. Otherwise, they are required by Cal/OSHA to quarantine at home for 10 days and can return to work after that only if they are asymptomatic and wear a mask through day 14.

Please note that this means it is very important to read close contact letters carefully in order to identify mandatory timelines for masking and test result submission. In addition, for teachers, please be aware that if a positive case is identified in your class, everyone in that class must mask for 10 days after the positive case is identified. If you need assistance in implementing these guidelines, please contact your site administrator.

We want to also remind you it is a requirement and each individual’s responsibility to self-screen at home every day before coming to campus. If you have COVID-19 symptoms, you must test and then contact Dawnalyn Murakawa-Leopard to determine whether you should come to campus. If you are positive for COVID-19, you must stay home, follow home isolation guidelines, and contact Dawnalyn Murakawa-Leopard to report the case. 

Self-Screening Before Coming to Campus

It is a requirement and each individual’s responsibility to self-screen at home every day before coming to campus. 

Parents should ask students, and employees should ask themselves, whether they are experiencing any symptoms that could potentially be related to COVID-19. If they have symptoms, they must contact the school (students) or District (employees) to determine whether they should come to campus.

In addition, if a student or an employee has been in close contact with anyone with a confirmed case of COVID-19, they must contact the school (students) or District (employees) to determine whether they should come to campus. 

If a student or an employee is positive for COVID-19, they must stay home, follow home isolation guidelines, and contact the school (students) or District (employees) to report the case. 

We ask all students, staff members, parents/guardians, and volunteers to continue to monitor themselves and their household members for symptoms of COVID-19 and to stay home and test if any symptoms develop, or if they find out they have been in close contact with anyone positive for COVID-19.


MBUSD’s weekly on-site testing program is open to asymptomatic students and staff members only. If you haven’t done so already, please sign your student(s) up for our weekly testing program

Testing for students and staff members who are symptomatic or who are identified as close contacts is available through the Beach Cities Health District.

Staff and students can sign up for a test using this registration link. (Students will need their Aeries ID number and the primary parent email address linked to their Aeries profile; employees will need the last 6 digits of their Employee ID number and their email address.) BCHD testing is available Monday through Friday from 2 p.m. until 5 p.m.

Additional testing resources can be found here.
2022 Summer Expanded Learning Opportunities

The primary purpose of Expanding Learning Opportunities is to prepare students for the next grade level/course by building their foundational skills in previous courses and/or grades. Invitations for ELO, ELA, and Math have been sent out.

Dates: June 27-July 21, 2022 | Monday-Thursday

We will have more details posted on May 13.
Smarter Balanced Summative Assessment

The Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments (SBAC), California Science Test (CAST), and California Alternate Assessments (CAA) are online tests that measure what your student knows and can do. 

The tests include many different types of questions that allow students to interact with the test questions. Results help identify gaps in knowledge or skills early on so your child can get the support needed to be successful in school.

This year students in grades 3-8 and 11th grade will take SBAC English Language Arts and Math.

Students in 5th, 8th, and 11th will also take the California Science Assessment. CAA is for eligible students with an active IEP in grades 3-8, and 11th for ELA and Math. CAA Science is for students in grades 5th, 8th, and 11th.

Dates: Elementary | May 2-13

MBMS & MCHS | May 16-June 3

How can I help my child prepare for the test? 

You are an important part of your child’s education. Some things you can do to help your child are:

  • Discuss the test with your child and make sure they are not scared or anxious.

  • Tell your child that you and their teacher have high expectations and that you are both there to help them every step of the way.

  • Make sure your child gets a good night’s sleep and a nutritious breakfast before testing. 

The California Department of Education has an SBAC Parent Guide and CAA Parent Guide for more information.

Upcoming Events
Join us at the 5th Annual MBUSD International Day!
MBUSD’s Transitional Kindergarten (TK) program promotes the joy of learning in a positive and nurturing environment. TK programming creates critical thinkers, effective oral communicators, and life-long learners. The classroom environment includes many opportunities for fine and gross motor activities, oral language development, and social-emotional learning. Our program prioritizes intentional teaching that is hands-on and child-centered, purposeful structured play, and small-group instruction.

All children who will be five years old as of September 1, 2022, are eligible to enroll in Kindergarten, and all children who will be five years old as of February 2, 2023, are eligible to enroll in Transitional Kindergarten.

Vote Now for South Bay's Best in the Education Category!

South Bay’s Best Readers’ Choice is back! You can vote from now through May 8 for your favorites across 8 categories.

One of the categories is Education! Please vote for Manhattan Beach Preschool, Mira Costa High, and your favorite Elementary school in our District! In the organizations and shows category under non-profit, you can vote for the Manhattan Beach Education Foundation!
Respond to Four MBUSD Questions

I have been asking students, staff, and MBUSD families the four questions below to learn more about our community.

If you have a moment, please send me your responses to [email protected]
The next Superintendent Newsletter will be published on Friday, May 13. 

Thank you again for your continued support and collaboration as we head into the final stretch of the school year. I look forward to many of the exciting events coming up across our District, including graduation!  

Together we continue to grow and improve every day. I appreciate all of our staff, students, and families for helping keep our community safe and healthy. Have a wonderful weekend!
John Bowes, Ed.D.
MBUSD Superintendent
Manhattan Beach Unified School District

325 S. Peck Avenue
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266