Ryan McDonald

About Town Hermosa Beach

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Back to school

Citing a need to bob and weave amid the changing conditions of the coronavirus pandemic, Superintendent Jason Johnson unveiled plans for the coming year in the Hermosa Beach City School District with a little wisdom from The Baddest Man on the Planet.

“I liken this year to the Mike Tyson quote: ‘Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face,’” Johnson said at a Hermosa school board meeting last week.

Johnson will join Valley School Principal Amy Rockwell, View School Principal Ted Scott, and Sylvia Gluck, principal on special assignment, for a virtual question-and-answer session about the coming year on Thursday at 3:30 p.m. The biggest question — whether the district will reopen for in-person instruction — had already been answered. Last month state health authorities unveiled the list of California counties that would be eligible to start the year with some kind of in-person instruction, a list that did not include Los Angeles County. State officials left an opening for elementary schools to seek a “waiver” to reopen, but earlier this month, Barbara Ferrer, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, announced that levels of transmission of COVID-19 in the county were still too high for schools in the region to seek waivers.

As a result, the district will begin the year with all students in a five-days-a-week “emergency distance learning model.” According to the plan unveiled last week, students in kindergarten through fifth grade will begin each day with an online morning meeting of the entire class, and the day will contain periods of both “synchronous” — meaning live and interactive — and asynchronous instruction. Students in grades six through eight will have a mix of synchronous and asynchronous instruction. They will attend all six periods on Monday, then have block-style schedules for the rest of the week in which students have fewer classes per day but spend more time on each class. There is time carved out for social and emotional wellness in the schedules of all grade levels.

The district will move to a hybrid model, in which students would be split into two groups that would attend school two or three days a week to facilitate social distancing, when permitted by the public health department. Families will be able to remain in a distance-learning-only option if they choose. 

According to a survey conducted by the district, 65 percent of parents would prefer to return to in-person instruction under a hybrid model, while 25.5 percent would want to maintain exclusively distance learning, and 9.5 percent were unsure. Among staff, about 28 percent said they would “confidently return” to the campus, while 11.5 percent said they would not feel comfortable returning; the remainder expressed varying levels of confidence about returning.

The question-and-answer session can be viewed on the district’s website. Classes in Hermosa schools begin Sept. 3.

 

Riding the rails

It was once possible to make it from Hermosa Beach to downtown Los Angeles by rail in less time than it now takes to negotiate the traffic-clogged freeways. That and other oddities will be the subject of the “The Story of Southern California’s Pacific Electric Railway Cars,” the latest entry in the Hermosa Beach Historical Society’s Virtual Lecture Series. The railway cars formed a transportation network that crisscrossed the region, and provided the way-to-go before the rise of the freeway. Their once enormous popularity and usefulness will surprise those who assume that Southern California has always been a car town. The lecture will be led by Jared Nigro, the chief operations officer of the Los Angeles Railroad Heritage Foundation, and will include information about the rail cars’ presence in the South Bay. The lecture begins at 6:30 p.m. tonight, Aug. 20. To register, go to HermosaBeachHistoricalSociety.org.

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