Updated: Malibu Schools to Close Indefinitely Amid COVID-19 Concerns

Webster Elementary 

Update, 3/15: The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Board of Education will meet at 4:30 p.m. on Monday, March 16, to formally adopt a resolution closing district schools.

The proposed resolution states the board will give power to the superintendent—Superintendent Dr. Ben Drati—to:

  1. “Ensure and protect the welfare, safety and educational wellbeing of all students”
  2. “Ensure and protect the welfare and safety of persons working for the district which shall include its agents, employees, representatives and all others acting for or on behalf of the district”
  3. “Provide necessary staffing and instruction; to modify school and work schedules
  4. “Declare an emergency … and to assign district employees (in their capacity as disaster service workers) to perform such disaster service activities as may be assigned to them
  5. “Cancel or modify any activities, programs, or courses, up to and including the temporary closure of the district”
  6. “Protect district property”
  7. “Make further declarations of emergency and to take emergency action as permitted by law.”

The meeting will take place at district headquarters in Santa Monica; however, due to rising concerns over the spread of COVID-19, district leadership is strongly suggesting members of the public view the meeting remotely through this link (which will be live at the time of the meeting).

Anyone interested in submitting comments remotely may do so by clicking here.

Malibu schools will not reopen Tuesday, following an announced two-day closure on March 13 and 16. Beginning Tuesday, March 17, the school district plans to implement a full closure of all district schools and programs, “including child care, infant toddler center, preschool, TK-12 and adult school,” according to a letter sent by Superintendent Dr. Ben Drati. The move was in response to growing concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the closure, the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District has announced a program where children enrolled in any SMMUSD school or program can pick up free breakfast and lunch at one of four school sites in the district, including one in Malibu: Webster Elementary. The other sites are: Santa Monica High School, McKinley Elementary and Rogers Elementary, all in Santa Monica. SMMUSD families may go to any of the four school sites to pick up meals, as long as they can provide the student’s ID number. Meals will be “grab-and-go,” and the district asks parents to ensure no one feeling sick or exhibiting symptoms of any sicknesses pick up meals at any school site.

According to Drati, there were no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at any SMMUSD schools; “however,” he wrote, “we must all recognize that the number of cases in Los Angeles County increases daily.”

“The reason to close a school during a pandemic is to prevent the spread of illness, according to the Center for Disease Control,” Drati wrote. “During this closure, we encourage both children and adults to follow social distancing recommendations from Public Health. This includes reducing close contact of people who are not regularly together, staying six feet apart from other people, limiting gatherings and avoiding public gatherings and large crowds.”

As of the announcement, there was no indication of when schools would reopen. However, district board members were to meet Monday to determine the projected length of campus closures.

“Our staff and teachers have thoughtfully developed materials and lessons to continue the continuity of learning for your student during this time,” Drati’s letter stated. “Your principal will share more with you regarding plans for your school that may include picking up materials on a designated day, and online learning. Teachers will be available during school hours for questions through email.”

Patrick Miller, principal of Malibu High School, posted on social media Saturday morning that the school was working to provide educational materials for students to learn outside the classroom.

“[Teachers] are working hard to provide activities/ assignments/ tasks/ to do via Google classroom,” Miller wrote. “[Teachers] will be communicating with [students] when there are opportunities for direct interaction/ feedback and are avail[able] during school day. Continued learning includes review, enrichment and new learning.”

Drati’s letter also addressed the potential issue of district families without reliable internet or computer access, and asked parents of secondary school-aged students (in grades six through 12) to participate in a survey to assess needs: bit.ly/2w6xN4z

The letter also included the following information:

  • Parents of children with Individual Education Plans will receive information from their service providers as to the activities that are available to students. We will do our best to hold scheduled IEPs via phone. 
  • If you (or someone you know) has an appointment for a kindergarten enrollment packet, or any school tour, it has been postponed. You will hear from your school principal regarding alternative instructions.
  • The March 19th school board meeting planned for Malibu has been moved to Santa Monica. We encourage people to watch the live stream. We will have a survey link to provide public comment. You may come to the meeting; however, we will be practicing social distancing and we do ask that if you are sick you do not attend. We will provide the live stream link early next week, along with the agenda link.
  • All planned athletic activities including practices and games are postponed until further notice.

Information will continue to be updated at www.smmusd.org/coronavirus.