Kevin Cody

Manhattan Beach parents rally for school reopening

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A young Manhattan Beach student rallies for returning to school. Photo by JP Cordero

by Kevin Cody

A newly elected school board member, a newly elected Beach Cities Health District board member, two Manhattan Beach Education Foundation board members, a Mira Costa High coach, and two first-year Mira Costa students were among speakers who addressed an estimated 300 parents and their children at a rally Wednesday evening for the “safe opening of schools and sports activities.” 

Students joined parents at the school reopening rally. Photo by JP Cordero

Tiffany Wright, a parent of three Manhattan Beach school children and founder of the South Bay Open Schools Facebook page, and actor and sports enthusiast Vince Vaughn organized the rally, held at the pagoda at Polliwog Park.

The “Dodgeball” star, a self-described “very average” high school football player and wrestler, told the masked, socially distanced gathering, “Kids don’t want to just do drills. They want to compete. The pro athletes are back. So, let the kids play.”

Parents ask for schools to be given priority. Photo by JP Cordero

Mira Costa head basketball coach Neal Perlmutter followed up by noting, “It’s already happening. Sixty percent of the kids in my program are flying out of state to compete. I drove down Grant Avenue this week and 40 people were playing soccer. There’s volleyball on the beach every day.”

Perlmutter added that team sports benefit students academically as well as physically because of the academic help they receive from coaches. Three-quarters of Mira Costa students participate in sports.

Governor Gavin Newsom was frequently criticized at the rally. Photo by JP Cordero

Hermosa Beach twins Genevieve and Gabriella Olson told of the difficulty they are having making friends in their first year at Mira Costa, where most students are from Manhattan Beach. “Teachers need to allow chat during our Zoom classes,” Genevieve said. She described herself as an ‘A’ student, but said the difficulty in forming relationships with friends and teachers and spending 10 hours on a computer every day is demotivating.

Gabriella, a member of the drama club, argued that drama and the arts are as important as sports and its students deserve the same opportunity to meet as school athletes, who are allowed to meet while masked and socially distancing.

Cookies are a universal language. Photo by JP Cordero

Newly elected Beach Cities Health District board member Martha Koo, a psychiatrist, cited statistics that students have suffered mentally, as well as academically because of the school shutdowns. She urged health officials to give equal weight to students’ mental and physical health when deciding whether or not to reopen schools.

Following the talks, Wright read a letter from District Four Supervisor Janice Hahn, in which Hahn offered hope that grades three through six may be allowed to reopen in January. (Manhattan Beach has received a waiver allowing it to reopen transitional kindergarten through second grade.)

Hahn added that she chose not to attend the gathering because the gathering violated County guidelines. She reminded everyone to wear a mask and socially distance. ER

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