John Bowes
Superintendent's Newsletter
November 19, 2021
Dear Manhattan Beach Unified School District Families and Staff,

I hope this letter finds you well and looking forward to enjoying the Thanksgiving holiday. Today’s message focuses on the Mira Costa High School Marching Band and Colorguard, a 10th grade performance and analysis of Macbeth, COVID vaccination clinics for students ages 5-11, changes to the outdoor masking requirement at elementary and middle school campuses on January 3, and our new Panorama Survey webpage.

Spotlight on Mira Costa High School (With thanks to MCHS Bands Booster Co-Presidents Cathy Oh and Keith Simpson, Ms. Taylor DiBernardo, and Principal Gerger for this update)

This past Saturday, the MCHS Marching Band and Colorguard competed in the Regional Championships of the Western Bands Association to wrap up their season with amazing results - a first for Mira Costa!

A hearty congratulations to the MCHS Marching Band and Colorguard on earning 1st Place along with awards for High Music and High Effect! This is a testament to the hard work of the students, staff, and parent volunteers throughout the season! You can watch the performance here: 
Kudos to Band Director Mr. Joel Carlson and his staff for their persistence, amazing attitude, and talent. It took an immense amount of creative work and dedication to figure out how to teach, practice, and perform effectively in the current environment, and, beyond that, to meet and exceed the level of excellence that has come to characterize this program, and we are tremendously grateful for the effort that went toward making this possible. Also, a huge thanks  to our parent volunteers. It literally takes a village to get 76 Marching Band and Colorguard members through a season, and Mr. Carlson and his team of staff and parent volunteers spent countless hours to do just that.

The Band is excited to be able to bring the show back home one more time at their full program Stadium Concert on December 3. Up next, the MCHS Parade Team marches on to the nationally televised Hollywood Christmas Parade, which will be broadcast on the CW the evening of November 28th - please see more details here.
Mac Beth
And in Ms. DiBernardo's 10th grade English class, students analyzed and performed scenes from Shakespeare's Macbeth to bring the play to life and enhance their understanding of the text. The commitment to stage directions, costumes, props, and dramatic interpretation was matched by their deep analysis and breakdown of each scene. This is one of the students' favorite projects done so far this year!
COVID Vaccination

Today, the FDA authorized and the CDC endorsed boosters of both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines for all adults who were vaccinated at least six months ago. This comes on top of action taken by the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Western States Scientific and Safety Review Workgroup to endorse and provide Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) allowing the use of a lower dose of Pfizer-BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine with children ages 5-11. 

Beach Cities Health District (BCHD) has held 9 vaccine clinics for school-aged children ages 5-11 in Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach and Redondo Beach since November 8. Here are three important resources:
  • If students received their first dose elsewhere, they are able to receive a second dose at a BCHD clinic between November 29 and December 9 as a walk-in appointment. The schedule will be posted at
  • Students are also able to receive a first dose vaccine at a BCHD clinic between November 29 and December 9, but they will need to schedule their second dose at another location. The last BCHD clinic will be on Thursday, December 9.
  • Questions? Contact BCHD’s School Well-Being Line at 310-374-3426, and press option 2. The hours for the 2021-22 academic year will be Monday - Thursday from 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. and Friday from 8:00 a.m. to noon on days school is in session.

Our schools’ health and safety efforts are focused on ensuring our ability to continue to support and provide daily in-person instruction for our students. The vaccine authorization for students ages 5-11 can provide these students the same protection against COVID as older students and adults, and we continue to urge all eligible community members to get vaccinated and, when recommended, to receive a booster. However, please know there is no locally-mandated COVID vaccine or booster requirement for students, nor has this been a topic of discussion with our Board of Trustees.

Modified Quarantine and Outdoor Mask Wearing

We all want as normal a school year as possible and are taking many steps to do that in a safe and healthy way, with the goal of ensuring that as many students as possible are attending school in person in their classrooms. Our Modified Quarantine allows students exposed to someone who is COVID positive to remain in school instead of missing school for ten days as they would under the traditional quarantine program.

Our Modified Quarantine program continues to keep students deemed close contacts in school and, to date, over 200 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 2000 more days of school than they would have been under traditional quarantine rules.
An important component of the Modified Quarantine has been the requirement of outdoor masks at the elementary and middle school levels. This requirement was always intended to be a temporary one. With high vaccination rates for students ages 12-17, strong participation in available appointments at the Beach City Health District COVID vaccination clinics for students 5-11, and the wide availability of vaccine appointments for students to receive a first and/or second dose of a vaccine between now and the return from winter break, it is time to revisit this policy. The return from winter break on January 3 will see a 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.'

This means that our outdoor masking requirement at the elementary and middle school will be in place for 15 more school days after we return from the Thanksgiving break, and then will be strongly encouraged, but not required, upon our return from winter break on January 3.
Along with good masking practices and vaccination, 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.

Please watch for more information in forthcoming editions of this Newsletter and school site messages from your principal prior to the winter break.
Panorama Survey

Beach Cities Health District continues to be a partner for our school district, other beach city school districts, and local cities in promoting programs that develop safe and healthy classroom and campus environments, focusing on physical health and wellness, parent education, and social and emotional learning. BCHD programs include vaccine clinics, substance abuse prevention programs, counseling programs, and parent nights, as well as the Panorama Social Emotional Learning and Equity and Inclusion surveys that our students recently completed.

These surveys, now taken for a second year in a row by students in grades 6-12, help us to promote a positive school climate by collecting valid and reliable feedback about topics ranging from students’ sense of belonging and teacher-student relationships to school engagement and school safety. This is an important component of our Board Goals focused on maximizing student academic success and creating a culture of care in our classrooms and schools.

We have received some questions about the surveys and have put together a  new Panorama Survey webpage to answer those inquiries and provide important information about this valuable program provided by Beach Cities Health District. You can see that webpage here.

You can view the actual questions students are asked through these links for the Social Emotional Learning Student Competency Measures Survey and the Equity and Inclusion Survey. You will also be able to learn about the results from the Panorama surveys during a presentation at our next  meeting of the Board of Education on November 30.
Board Meeting Attendance

The next meeting of the Board of Trustees will be on Tuesday, November 30 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 at 5:00 pm and submit a public comment card to be invited to speak in person at the podium during the Board meeting. Public commenters may speak in person from either inside or outside the Board Room. 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.
Thanksgiving chalkboard
Happy Thanksgiving

As we head into the holidays, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has issued a number of advisories. Please be sure to review the LACDPH guidance for Thanksgiving celebrations as well as for domestic and international travel. On behalf of our Board of Trustees and MBUSD, we wish you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving!

John Bowes, Ed.D.
MBUSD Superintendent
Manhattan Beach Unified School District

325 S. Peck Avenue
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266