Redondo third, fourth, fifth graders returning to campus

District loses $500,000 in facility rental fees

by Donald Morrison

Redondo Beach Unified School District third, fourth and fifth graders are on track to return to school by March 2, in two groups, with sixth graders quickly to follow, according to a plan reviewed by the school board during its Wednesday Zoom meeting.

On Monday, Supervisor Janice Hahn’s office announced that Los Angeles County has met the  Los Angeles County Department of Public Health guidelines for elementary school reopenings, which require the County to go five consecutive days with fewer than 25 per 100,000 people testing positive for COVID-19.

“You know how this Covid return to school happens?” said Redondo Superintendent Dr. Steven Keller. “You get a random tweet on a Monday that you weren’t expecting, and then you get a firestorm of emails and news reports.”

Redondo students in transitional kindergarten through second grade returned to school in two groups on Monday, Feb. 2 and Wednesday, Feb. 4.

“The first week of in person instruction has been full of eye smiles, laughter and a sense of community, unlike any other year,” said Birney Elementary Principal Mira Baskaron in a Zoom comment posted during the board’s Feb. 9 meeting. 

“We are all smiles at Jefferson… under our masks,” added Jefferson Principal Jeff Winckler. 

Third graders are scheduled to return on Wednesday, Feb. 24 and Thursday, Feb. 25, with fourth and fifth graders starting the following week, on March 3 and March 4. Students will be separated into two cohorts like the TK-2 students. 

At Wednesday’s board meeting, Dr. Keller said sixth grade students could return as early as March 9. 

Because of current County guidelines, teachers are prohibited from working in person with more than two cohorts, which isn’t a problem in Redondo until sixth grade, where class sizes are larger, and students typically have four teachers and move to different classrooms from period to period. 

“Our goal is to develop a short-term, on-campus solution,” said Assistant Superintendent Dr. Susan Wildes. “This kind of interim solution will allow for a quick pivot to period rotations once that’s allowed.”

Dr. Wildes said the RBUSD is consulting with surrounding districts to consider all models of learning in order to maximize the students’ time on campus. 

According to the proposed timeline presented at the Wednesday board meeting, sixth grade families can expect to hear more information on Feb. 25, with principles set to send commitment surveys to families the next day. 

Redondo Beach Teachers Association president Monica Joyce raised concerns during the meeting about the speed at which school administrators expect teachers to return to in person classes.

“We cannot just flip a switch and start teaching in a hybrid model,” Joyce said. “Teachers need time to obtain child care for their own children, elderly parents or others who have been under their care during the pandemic. We must have administration support on this matter.”

Vaccines coming to BCHD

Dr. Keller said during the Feb. 9 board meeting that the Beach Cities Health District will soon begin coordinating distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.

“Beach Cities Health District is going to be an actual facilitator of this vaccine process and we couldn’t be more excited,” Dr. Keller said. “So we sent a survey to staff just to find out where they’re at with taking the vaccine. We want to give the BCHD the best and most accurate information.”

Race and Equity Committee

Dr. Darin Earley, Director of the Loyola Marymount University Family of Schools, will be the guest speaker at the March 17 meeting of the school district’s Race and Equity Committee. 

The Race and Equity Committee had their first meeting last October. Since then, they’ve created four subcommittees to address staff training, hiring practices, curriculum and campus culture.

“We’re district wide right now,” said Marvin Brown, assistant principal at RUHS. “But at the end of this year we’re going to separate into sites, so each school will have a committee that actually takes the lead.”

Community sharing and losses

Also at its Feb. 9 meeting, the School Board learned the district has lost an estimated $500,000 in facilities rental revenue since the start of the pandemic.

Before the pandemic, the school district’s auditoriums, fields, aquatic center, gyms and tennis courts were rented out to sports leagues, vote centers, scout troops, filming and other events.

With the exception of the upper tennis courts at Redondo Union High School and the Alta Vista park fields, all RBUSD facilities have been closed to the community since March, 2020, according to a staff report. ER

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Written by: Donald Morrison

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