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Principal Christopher Hertz adjusts tables at one of the outdoor study areas at Malibu Elementary School. Scott Steepleton/Surfside News
Scott Steepleton, Editor
8:23 am PST March 10, 2021

Days before launching a new system to get TK-5 students on campus for a couple days each week, the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School and its teachers union have agreed to accelerate more in-person learning starting next month.

Distance Learning Plus is set to start March 15, where elementary school students spend three days per week with their teachers learning remotely and the other two on campus doing activities related to their distance learning.

The two-week spring break starts March 27 and the parties were trying to decide how to proceed from there.

Then came encouraging data about COVID-19, the availability of vaccines for educators and changes to Los Angeles County’s reopening protocols for schools.

District officials requested to meet with Santa Monica-Malibu Classroom Teachers Association leaders to chart a new course. The result, according to a statement from Mark Kelly, assistant superintendent for human resources, and Sarah Braff, union president, is an agreement to implement hybrid schedules starting April 12.

Under the pact  signed Tuesday, elementary schools will go to a five-day week with students on campus four days and in synchronous/asynchronous learning the other.

To make the agreement work, March 11-12 have been designated as planning days, and two days of on-site/in-person experiences will also take place, one each the weeks of March 15 and March 22.

This time will be used “to prepare, welcome students on campus, and to ensure that all necessary protocols are operational prior to full implementation of the hybrid model,” according to the statement.