fairy lights
John Bowes
Superintendent's Newsletter
December 17, 2021
Dear Manhattan Beach Unified School District Teachers and Staff,

I hope this letter finds you well. Today’s message focuses on Robinson Elementary School, COVID vaccination updates, changes to the outdoor masking requirement at elementary and middle school campuses on January 3, Pennekamp Elementary construction, school safety, an MBMS Strings performance, celebrating Costa student Nathan Staso and his Eagle Scout project, and travel advisory guidelines for the winter holiday.

Spotlight on Robinson Elementary (With thanks to Robinson Principal O'Sullivan for this update).
Robinson writer
More writers
Robinson Elementary is so proud of the way that our students progress in writing through the years using the Writers Workshop model adopted by MBUSD. Writers Workshop is a technique and framework for teaching writing that encourages students to write on topics of their choosing, at their individual pace. Each day in Writers Workshop, students learn writing strategies and practice those techniques during an independent writing time while the teacher supports small groups or individual students. As you can see in these photos, our students are independent authors from our youngest students to our oldest. All of these students are engaged in non-fiction writing - our first grader is writing an "All About" book based on their interests, and our fifth grade students are writing research-based essays. Whether it's all about cats or an essay on solar power, it's a joy to read our students’ writing and to see how they use the writing structures and techniques they have been taught. Of course, by fifth grade the writing is more sophisticated and nuanced because of the scaffolding that has occurred since Kindergarten. In addition to non-fiction, our students also learn to write in narrative and persuasive styles. 
Spotlight on Model United Nations (MUN) at Mira Costa (with thanks to MUN and MBX for this article and photos)
LAIMUN group photo
Mira Costa’s Model UN students hosted the 27th annual Los Angeles Invitational Model United Nations Conference (LAIMUN) on December 4-5, 2021. The conference was attended by over 1,000 delegates from local Southern California high schools.

This semester MUN students competed at several local conferences, including BruinMUN at UCLA and CHSMUN at Cerritos High School, and earned dozens of Best Delegate, Outstanding Delegate, and Commendation awards. Costa MUN continued its tradition of excellence winning Best Large Delegation at BruinMUN in November.

Costa MUN will be resuming national competition next semester attending conferences in Chicago, Washington DC, and New York. Good luck Costa MUN!
Construction photo
School Construction

You may have seen flyers sharing information about our upcoming construction work. We are very excited to be getting ready for the installation of our new two-story building on the Pennekamp Elementary School campus. We are doing this using a “modular construction” model, in which the pieces of the building are constructed off-site and then transported to our campus and put together there - a little like a real-life Lego building, with the pieces being put in place with a giant crane.

Originally, the schedule called for the modules to be delivered to a staging area over this past week and then for the modules to be installed at Pennekamp beginning next Monday. However, the rain caused some delays in this schedule. Our latest schedule now calls for:
Module delivery to Peck Avenue north of Manhattan Beach Boulevard beginning tomorrow, Saturday, December 18, 2021.

Module placement at Pennekamp Elementary on Peck Avenue south of 2nd Street from Monday, December 27, 2021 through Thursday, December 30, 2021. Note that this placement will involve the full closure of Peck Avenue between 2nd Street and Gates Avenue during construction hours.

Please know that this schedule is subject to change as it is highly weather dependent. If you would like to be provided with any schedule updates related to this process, please provide your contact information using this form. For more information, please click here.
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School Safety

In the Manhattan Beach Unified School District, the safety and well-being of our students is always our top priority, and we are grateful for your ongoing partnership in this effort. As you read in my communication sent last night, there have been a number of anonymous threats circulating on TikTok which have been widely reported in the media. Our District has been in communication with the Manhattan Beach Police Department (MBPD) regarding this situation, and MBPD has confirmed that at this time they are not aware that any of these threats are credible or that there have been any specific threats against Manhattan Beach schools. We thank you for your support in helping to ensure a smooth day today; at all of our school sites, instruction went on as planned, and there were no reports of threats or violence. For the full text of last night’s e-mail, click here.
COVID Vaccination

To date, the vaccination rate for students in Manhattan Beach ages 5-11 who have received one or more doses is 62.6%, with a full vaccination rate for this age range at 45.6%. 90.6% of students ages 12-17 in Manhattan Beach are fully vaccinated.

In addition, on Wednesday, December 8, 2021, the FDA expanded eligibility for booster shots for 16- and 17-year olds, and the CDC encourages individuals in this age range whose second dose was 6 or more months ago to receive a booster shot. 

To find out about availability of boosters for anyone age 16 and up, or to schedule vaccination appointments for anyone age 5 and up, parents are encouraged to visit California’s myturn.ca.gov website. For more details please see my December 10 email.

Modified Quarantine and Outdoor Mask Wearing

Our Modified Quarantine program continues to keep unvaccinated students who are deemed to be close contacts in school and, to date, 353 students have been able to benefit from in-person instruction because of the Modified Quarantine - that means that, collectively, these students have been in school for over 3500 more days of school than they would have been under traditional quarantine rules.

Beginning on January 3 we will shift from an outdoor masking rule of ‘required’ to ‘strongly encouraged’ at the elementary and middle school levels. This will align our outdoor masking rule across all grade levels from preschool through twelfth grade to ‘strongly encouraged.’ For more information on masking, please see my December 10 email.

Another step to help provide an additional layer of protection against COVID for students and staff is our on-campus COVID testing program; you can find more information about this program here.
Board Meeting Attendance
At our December 15 Board meeting, Trustees and staff were treated to a stirring rendition of the Star Spangled Banner by MBMS strings students, led by teacher Denise Haslop.
The Board of Trustees was also thrilled to recognize MCHS student and Eagle Scout candidate Nathan Staso. In August 2021, Nathan requested and received permission to create a Pickleball court adjacent to the dodgeball area in front of the Athletic Complex. This project was completed in November 2021 and will provide great benefit to the Mira Costa High School community. We congratulate Nathan for this donation and for becoming an Eagle Scout!
Nathan Staso
pickleball court
The next meeting of the Board of Trustees will be on Wednesday, January 12 at 5:00 p.m. at the District Office, and the public is welcome to attend. To provide public comment, you may submit a written comment here or you may come to the District Office Board Room and submit a public comment card to be invited to speak in person at the podium during the Board meeting. The public is welcome to attend the full meeting and to listen and watch as the Board conducts its business. Those who cannot attend in person may watch the Livestream.
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Holiday Travel Advisory Guidelines

As we head into the holidays, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LACDPH) has issued a number of advisories. Please be sure to review the LACDPH guidance for domestic and international travel, and a special LACDPH Holiday Health Alert can be found here. We strongly urge anyone who has been traveling to seek a COVID test prior to returning to campus on January 3. It may also be advisable to consider testing, whatever your holiday plans are, if you will be around others during the holidays.

The next Superintendent Newsletter will be published on January 7, 2022.

Let me wish everyone a wonderful winter holiday and a very Happy New Year!
John Bowes, Ed.D.
MBUSD Superintendent
Manhattan Beach Unified School District

325 S. Peck Avenue
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266