John Bowes
Superintendent's Newsletter
October 29, 2021
Dear Manhattan Beach Unified School District Families,

I hope this letter finds you well. Today’s message focuses on fall-themed learning at the Preschool, COVID vaccination and outdoor masking requirements, a reminder about cold and flu season, and handy tips for a fun and safe Halloween.

Spotlight on Manhattan Beach Preschool (With thanks to Director Johnson for this update)

MB Preschool students have been focusing on fall themes this past week, including exploring pumpkins. Pumpkins can provide many hands-on learning opportunities in the classroom, from art to math to science investigations and sensory play. We brought our very own pumpkin patch to the preschool, and every student was able to go to the patch, pick out their own pumpkin, and listen to a fun story. In the classrooms students have been scientists exploring their pumpkins. They are using their 5 senses to learn about how pumpkins look, feel, taste, and smell and to determine if they make any sounds. Teachers and students are dissecting pumpkins in class so the students can also explore the insides of a pumpkin and learn the different parts to a pumpkin and how they grow. During centers students are comparing pumpkins in size, shape, color and feel. It is fun to hear the great discussions preschoolers are having with each other about what they think are the best pumpkins in the classrooms. We have a lot of scientists in the making at MP Preschool! It is amazing to see students who are learning and having fun at the same time.
Preschool Fall 2021
COVID Vaccination and Outdoor Masking Requirements

The Food and Drug Administration today authorized Pfizer-BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use in children ages 5-11. Advisors for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who recommend how vaccines should be used, are scheduled to meet November 2 and 3 to determine whether to authorize vaccines for this age group. In advance of final approvals and availability of the vaccine, we have been working closely with Beach Cities Health District (BCHD)to develop plans for vaccine clinics. BCHD has been a wonderful partner during COVID and is working directly with sites in Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach and Redondo Beach to host school pop-up clinics starting November 8, pending approvals. The full schedule, which includes nine total opportunities for Beach City families to get a first dose vaccine at a BCHD clinic can be found here. More information about clinic registration, maps and FAQs will be available at

The District and the City of MB have high COVID vaccination rates (for those currently eligible) and low COVID positivity rates - this is welcome news and supports our primary goal of ensuring that as many students as possible are able to participate in in-person instruction for as many days as possible. We are also working to ensure safe and healthy classrooms and campuses and to approximate a normal and regular school year, despite the COVID variants present in our community. These are all good goals; at the same time, they will sometimes compete with each other as we implement our educational programs and daily instruction, and we must mediate the tension between them to find the right balance for our schools.

As an example, we have received questions about when the outdoor mask policy at our elementary and middle schools will end. MBUSD began implementing the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health’s modified quarantine program on Monday, September 27. This program directly supports our goal of making sure as many students as possible are able participate in in-person instruction. Under the modified quarantine option, an unvaccinated student who is identified as being a close contact due to exposure to a confirmed COVID-19 case can continue in-person instruction at school if both the positive case and the close contact were masked during the entire period of potential exposure. The close contact must be tested periodically and must remain under quarantine at home outside of the regular school day.

In the last month, the Modified Quarantine program has allowed 99 students identified as close contacts to attend classes in person rather than quarantine at home for ten days - in aggregate providing almost 1000 days of in-seat classroom instruction that would otherwise have been missed. The elementary and middle school masking requirement is a critical component of our Modified Quarantine program. If students were not masked while at recess, we would need to find a way to keep track of which students were in proximity to whom, for how long, and whether they were wearing masks - and those who were in contact without masks would need to quarantine at home rather than being allowed to continue to attend school.

We are working hard to take as many off ramps as possible and create as normal a school year as we can. The pending introduction of the COVID vaccine for students ages 5-11 and good participation in that program will be an important determinant in aligning the elementary and middle school mask requirement to that of the high school and preschool. (Outdoor masking is strongly encouraged, but no longer required at the high school because of the high vaccination rate at Mira Costa High School. Outdoor masking at the preschool is no longer required as the modified quarantine cannot be used with preschool-aged students, and they fall under the traditional ten-day quarantine program whether or not they were masked while in contact with others).

We all look forward to a time when we do not have to be concerned about COVID in our community and schools.

COVID Testing

MBUSD has launched an important, free, voluntary school-based COVID testing program for our students to provide safe and healthy classrooms and campuses. Regular voluntary COVID testing helps us to identify cases proactively and early and allows us to prevent further infection by isolating people with positive diagnoses and alerting close contacts to possible exposure.

If your student is not already enrolled in our free weekly on-campus COVID testing program, we encourage you to provide your consent for them to participate by completing the registration form here - you only need to fill it out once. Learn more about our free on-campus vaccination program here.

Cold and Flu Season

With the onset of cold and flu season, it is important to remember that anyone who has symptoms should not come to school. COVID, cold, and flu symptoms overlap, and while in the past we may have sent symptomatic students to school because “it’s only a little cold” or “there’s a test scheduled for today that they can’t miss” or “they can power through,” this is no longer the case. If your student is symptomatic, please keep them home until they are well, and please consider seeking a COVID test to rule out the possibility of a COVID-19 infection. In addition, as a reminder, please consider getting a flu shot to help protect your family and our community from widespread flu outbreaks.
Please check out these tips for a safe and spooky COVID-free Halloween provided by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

I hope you and your family enjoy a safe and fun Halloween weekend!
John Bowes, Ed.D.
MBUSD Superintendent
Manhattan Beach Unified School District

325 S. Peck Avenue
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266