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Manhattan Beach Schools Promise Full-Time Opening in the Fall

May 20, 2021 09:05AM ● By Jeanne Fratello
The Manhattan Beach Unified School District on Wednesday night approved a resolution confirming that it will open full-time in the fall for the 2021/22 school year, and discussed the latest plans for this year's commencement ceremonies.

The resolution promises that "to help each child grow academically, socially, and emotionally, Manhattan Beach Unified School District will reopen for 100% in-person learning this fall. Beginning on August 25, 2021, the district will utilize the same 180 days-a-year full-day schedules employed on March 13, 2020, prior to pandemic-related school closures and schedule changes, barring any county or state guidelines prohibiting it."

For middle school and high school, this would mean returning to a regular schedule (not the current block schedule) beginning in August.

"I tried to echo this [sentiment] in my message this week," said MBUSD Superintendent Mike Matthews at the board meeting. "There is nothing that we see that’s going to stop us from opening in full next year."

MBUSD Board President Jen Fenton asked if the district needed a "Plan B" to assure parents and students that they would still receive the instructional time in case county or state guidelines changed in the fall.

But Matthews reiterated that the school would reopen no matter what it takes.

"We're ready to climb barriers for [the full-time reopening] to happen," replied Matthews. "If they put up more barriers, we have the summer to solve those issues. I know you want 'plan B,' but we can do 'plan Z.'"

One issue that the district is facing as fall draws closer is declining enrollment. Student enrollment in 2020/21 was down almost 10% in comparison with just three years earlier.

Matthews has been encouraging any family that is thinking about enrolling but hasn't done so yet to do it as soon as possible to help with planning for the fall, and to ensure that students get a spot in their home school. 

Commencement Updates

The board also heard an update on commencement plans for each of the schools. 

At Mira Costa High School, organizers are hoping to seat as many people in person as possible, although a "professional, robust and reliable livestream program" will be offered.

There are 632 graduates in the Class of 2021. Waller Stadium seats have been taped and numbered into separate sections, each with space for 4 spectators. Depending on vaccination rate, the stadium could have anywhere from 184 sections (with no one vaccinated) to 896 sections (with everyone vaccinated).

Out of the 632 families, 434 families have so far said they would attend and 3 families said they would not attend. Of those adults who plan to attend, 1,357 (92%) have been vaccinated, and 120 (8%) have not been vaccinated. An additional 120 spectators are between the ages of 2 and 15; they will have to show proof of a negative COVID test before entering. (Adults must show proof of vaccination, not a COVID test.)

At Manhattan Beach Middle School, there will be four separate ceremonies in the MBMS Quad: Tuesday, June 15 at 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.; and Wednesday, June 16 at 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. Two guests will be allowed per student; the ceremonies will be done alphabetically.

At the elementary schools, each elementary is planning one outdoor promotion, on a field or blacktop. Each 5th grader will be permitted two to four guests, and households will be placed six feet apart.

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