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Manhattan Beach Middle, High Schools Prepare for Reopening

Mar 24, 2021 12:22PM ● By Jeanne Fratello
Manhattan Beach Middle School and Mira Costa High School have released schedules and plans to launch into an in-person hybrid program, starting for some students as early as March 29.

But brace yourselves: In the days leading up to spring break (April 2), the schedule is a bit of a head-spinner.

On Thursday and Friday, March 25 and 26, students will work on asynchronous assignments to give MBMS and MCHS teachers the opportunity to prepare their classrooms and be ready to welcome students in-person next week.

In the meantime, students have been divided into three groups: Team 1 and Team 2, the groups that attend in-person classes; and a third group of students who have chosen to remain in distance learning.

Beginning Monday, March 29, Team 1 students in grades 6 through 9 will attend from 8:30-9:30 a.m. for first period only on Monday; and Team 2 students in grades 6 through 9 will do the same on Tuesday. All Team 1 students (grades 6 through 12) will attend from 8:30-9:30 for second period only on Wednesday; and all Team 2 students will do the same on Thursday. (MBUSD's spring break begins on Friday, April 2.)

(Bonus points if you understood that from reading it just one time.)

This unusual schedule is designed to give teachers and staff the opportunity to learn what is working and what needs to be adjusted so that the schools are ready when students return for the official hybrid program on April 12.

"I know the single period will be a hassle for some families in terms of transportation, and I’m sorry," wrote MBUSD Superintendent Mike Matthews in an email to parents. "It is just one or two days, and it will help us tremendously."

Hybrid Program to Begin April 12

After spring break, on Monday April 12, the schools will move to a three period day two days a week. Team 1 will attend in-person on Monday (Periods 1-3-5) and Tuesday (2-4-6); and Team 2 will have the same schedule on Thursday and Friday. Students will attend from 8:30 a.m. to 11:50 a.m. (MCHS) or 8:30 a.m. to 11:20 a.m. (MBMS) and will see three different classrooms and groups of students on each day they attend.


For distance learning students, including both those who choose to remain in distance learning and those in the team not attending in-person class on a given day, there are two different models of instruction. Teachers can choose to provide online instruction in a designated 35 - 40 minute afternoon time slot, which will be an abbreviated version of what students have been experiencing up to this point. Or, teachers can choose to “simulcast” their lesson, streaming it live from the classroom, so that the distance learning students are seeing and hearing the same things that the in-person students are seeing and hearing at the same time.

Many details have yet to be finalized or explained; the district has promised to come back with more information specific to students' grades and teams.

"Red Tier" Brought About Earlier Start

The unusual schedule for the week of March 29 came about when Los Angeles County moved into the red tier, a lower-risk tier for COVID-19 restrictions. 

"While we had originally planned for this reopening to occur by April 12, that date was moved up when L.A. County went into the red tier sooner than expected. We have agreed on a plan that starts on a smaller scale, like all of our other plans, then moves into a more full schedule," Matthews told parents.

On Friday, March 19, MBUSD and the Manhattan Beach Unified Teachers Association (MBUTA) reached an agreement and signed an MOU paving the way for students and employees to return to MBMS and MCHS for in-person instruction beginning on Monday, March 29.

Matthews noted that this will be MBUSD’s first-ever implementation of a schedule that allows students to attend school in a setting with more than 14 students in a single cohort or stable group since the COVID-19 pandemic began. "This is big," he said.

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