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The new administration/classroom building at Malibu High School. Scott Steepleton/Surfside News
Scott Steepleton, Editor
10:27 am PST March 13, 2021

Students in middle school and high school could return to limited in-person instruction the week of March 22, with additional on-campus days at Malibu’s secondary schools after spring break.

According to a letter sent to parents in recent days, COVID-19 case rates have been declining, meaning Los Angeles County will soon move from the purple tier — the most restrictive of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s four-tier Blueprint for a Safer Economy — down one to red.

“This may allow for the return of secondary students to limited in-person instruction soon,” educators said.

What they need now is further guidance from the county Department of Public Health.

The teaching model known as Distance Learning Plus, which elementary school students start on Monday, may begin at Malibu Middle School and Malibu High as early as the week of March 22.

Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Superintendent Ben Drati says the school board is considering adding more on-site instruction at the secondary level some time after the break. “This might include the possibility of a hybrid model where students are on campus for two days per week and join class remotely the other days.”

Educators say they are aware of the “wide spectrum of preferences” and “wide range of comfort levels” over the various models. “We will continue to do our best to make the best of a bad situation.”

Whatever changes are made, the district is guided by principles including:

  • Health and safety

  • Quality of instruction

  • Maintaining existing teachers, classes including range of electives, AP

  • Minimizing disruption of schedule/routine

  • Keeping students on pace as much as possible with their teachers and their peers

District officials also do not want to pressure anyone to come to campus who doesn’t want to.

In addition, officials want students “to take the screening process seriously and if they wake up not feeling well, we don't want pressure for them to try and attend.”

On those days, educators want students to be able to participate fully from home.

Patrick Miller and Melisa Andino, respectively the principals of Malibu High School and Malibu Middle School, want parents to take a 2-minute survey aimed at helping plan for the number of students expected to return to campus. The deadline to respond is 5 p.m. March 14.

Athletic conditioning, practice and competition are in process, said Gail Pinsker, the district’s community and public relations officer.

“Other programs and services are being provided like assessments and special education services,” she said.

On-campus activities the week of March 22 are intended to promote social-emotional wellbeing, “meet teachers in person, provide enrichment activities and orient the students to campus, some who have not had classes there previously,” said Piunsker.

Students might even get a look at the new administration/classroom building.

“This is the first step toward ramping up on-campus opportunities following spring break,” Pinsker said.