HomeSMUSD Shelves In-Person Activities Through January

SMUSD Shelves In-Person Activities Through January

Photo by Mitch Lehman / TRIBUNE
The school district’s decision affects athletic programs at San Marino High School, among other activities in the SMUSD.

Citing what he referred to as a strong recommendation from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, Superintendent Jeff Wilson announced last week that the San Marino Unified School District has suspended all in-person services through January.
The action includes athletic programs at San Marino High School, small special education cohorts at Valentine and Carver elementary schools and Huntington Middle School, and the Right At School day-care program.
Speaking on a video on the district’s website, Wilson referenced Dr. Robert Gilchick of the public health department, who presented “staggering new data of the current surge of COVID-19 cases” to educators as grounds for the decision.
“Some of the data includes a new record number of deaths on Wednesday, Jan. 6,” said Wilson, a day that saw a then-record of 258 deaths and more than 11,000 new cases reported. “When you include that to where we were in May, when we were getting 700 to 800 reported, that’s quite a shift,” said Wilson. “All of the projections nationwide say that the surge is only going to get worse through January.”
Wilson also referenced more restrictive stay-at-home orders from the state, a prediction from Public Health that the numbers of deaths and infections will “continue trending in the wrong direction throughout the month of January,” and an overwhelmed health-care system as additional factors contributing to the decision.
Wilson also said that San Marino teachers and staff members are not likely to see vaccinations completed until early to mid-March. Also on hold is the anticipated opening of on-campus classes for students in transitional kindergarten through 2nd grade at the district’s elementary schools that was granted via a waiver from Public Health.
“We will continue to kick that can down the road in anticipating when we might reopen,” said Wilson.
He also said that he is frequently asked when he believes campuses will reopen to in-person learning.
“When it is certain it is safe for students and staff,” Wilson responded.
“It is important to keep targeted dates in mind so that we are most prepared to ramp up when that time comes to bring students back to campus,” Wilson continued. “But whenever you hear me talk about a date, it really is a soft date because the variables continue to change on a daily and certainly weekly basis.”
He also said that the SMUSD is “looking at an early February window as the next soft-targeted date for providing any
in-person instruction.”
The decision is yet another in a long series of disappointments for students participating in many extracurricular activities, including the performing arts and athletics.
Last July 20, the California Interscholastic Federation — the state’s governing body for high school athletics — announced its updated schedule for the 2020-21 school year that kept all previous sports but employs a two-season format that was scheduled to begin in December. The CIF’s new calendar postponed the beginning of the traditional fall season to that month, with several sports being shuffled between seasons. The last day for all other rescheduled fall sports fell sometime between March 20 and April 17. Winter sports, such as basketball, were woven into spring sports, with regional or state playoffs ending June 19. Last week’s decision dealt a severe blow to that schedule.
In October, San Marino High School athletes began socially distanced training sessions in swimming, water polo, cross country, track and field, baseball, basketball, football and volleyball, all of which have been suspended until at least Feb. 1.
Drama program director Blake Williams opened virtual auditions for the school’s spring musical, “Grease,” and is looking for a method to stage the show that would allow for maximum community consumption. Williams said last week that she is considering a “drive-in” style performance or one that can be spread out over a wide area that can allow for social distancing while maintaining the atmosphere of live theater.

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