SMMUSD Anticipating 2021-22 School Year Will Be in-Person

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Dr. Ben Drati

Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) Superintendent Dr. Ben Drati said in an emailed statement that the district was planning for students to be back on campus during the 2021-22 school year. 

“We say this with the understanding that unforeseen events have altered our plans in the past. However, we are committed to in-person instruction as our priority for the fall,” Drati wrote in a message to the community.

By the time school resumes in August, the district expects to have all staff vaccinated, if not “much earlier.” As of Monday, Feb. 8, Drati wrote, education staff were scheduled for Phase 1B on California’s vaccine priority list, a phase which will start within the next two to three weeks. Many SMMUSD staff such as school nurses and special education teachers who need to be close to students for health purposes have already gotten their first round of vaccines as part of the county’s first rollout. 

Drati said the district also expected at least some of the students to be vaccinated by next August, though he recognized that currently none of the available vaccines are approved for children under age 16. The district expected LA County to drop from the purple tier (highest rate of virus spread) into the red tier by August, with COVID-19 positivity rates dipping to safer levels. 

Currently, Drati’s statement said, school principals were working with staff and parents to finetune “distance learning plus,” the type of learning the district is currently offering. “Distance learning plus has started with limited services and will expand as the health environment improves, providing a model with the least disruption and student engagement,” he wrote.