COVID-19: MBMS is shut down due to COVID

A lesson in patience:

A lesson in patience: Despite County Health Department approval to allow transitional kindergarten through second grade students to return to campus, the Hermosa Beach School Board voted this week to delay returning young students to campus until Jan. 13. Photo


The five elementary schools of the Manhattan Beach Unified School District welcomed back their youngest students this week. But the Manhattan Beach Middle School’s program for high needs students was shut down due to three COVID-19 cases. 

On Sunday, MBUSD sent out a letter to parents with kids at MBMS informing them that three positive COVID-19 cases had been discovered that had a connection with the campus.

“Cleaning and disinfecting of the exposed location has been completed,” the district’s statement said. “In all three cases, the most recent of which was last on campus on Friday, November 20, MBUSD investigated to determine who was within six feet of the person for at least 15 minutes and took action to send anyone who was in such proximity home until further notice. Because we have three positive COVID-19 cases that the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has determined appear to be epidemiologically related, LACDPH is opening an ‘outbreak investigation’ for MBMS. This means that a public health nurse and physician will be assigned to conduct a deeper investigation.”

This will require the campus to be closed for 14 days. At present, MBUSD’s COVID-19 dashboard indicates seven active cases throughout the district: two staff members at MBMS, two at Grand View Elementary, and one staff member at Pennekamp Elementary. Two students have tested positive at MIra Costa High School. 

Superintendent Mike Matthews said that though each COVID-19 case is concerning — as well as the larger spike in cases throughout LA County — he believes the district’s protocols have been successful in preventing further community spread. 

“I think when we see problems out there, it’s coming from just living in society and being around people who are not following all the protocols,” Matthews said. “We certainly have employees and students who have been diagnosed with Covid. Our job when that happens is to do everything possible to stop any chance of spread.”  

Manhattan Beach Unified Teachers Association president Shawn Chen said that while some cases are to be expected within MBUSD, she has been concerned that the district’s reopening plans are not providing an adequate safety net for teachers. Chen said glitches in the plan included the district’s screening app, which is intended to help insure parents are following protocols —  such as not traveling, and not mixing with other households. Chen expressed concern both that the app relies on self-reporting and that not every parent received the text message that linked to the app, resulting in an “ad hoc” plan in which kids gave information cards to their parents with a link to the app. 

“It may be fine to be tolerant of glitches during ordinary times,” Chen said. “But when we have a combination of unsafe behaviors and unclear communication during a global pandemic with potentially fatal consequences, it’s really best to imagine a worst-case scenario and plan for that.” 

“Because ultimately protecting teachers protects the entire community,” Chen said. “Lots of these parents don’t understand the many ways that even a small district like ours can have communication issues that make the implementation of even a well-organized plan fall short of our imagination.” ER 


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