Students in El Segundo head back to class as Southland districts struggle to put together reopening plans

After re-opening in December and then closing again as COVID-19 cases surged in the Southland, El Segundo’s youngest students were welcomed back to campus for in-person instruction Tuesday. 

"They were skipping, they were joyful, they were greeting me - it was just wonderful," said El Segundo Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Melissa Moore as students filed into Central Street School. "We have not had one single [COVID-19] case on campus of community transmission. I have so much confidence in our teachers and in our staff to follow these protocols - we’re doing it with success, and the steps that we’ve taken are showing that it works."

Transitional kindergarten through second-grade students were also brought back to campus in Manhattan Beach and Redondo Beach this week. They’re all following a hybrid model, with some students attending physical class with their assigned cohorts and some continuing with distance learning.

Dr. Moore said that when surveyed, an overwhelming majority of families in her district - 85 percent at one point - supported sending kids back to the classroom. 

"We knew the commitment from our families and our community, our case rates have been low, and I know that in other communities that serve different populations and children, that same level of commitment and interest may not be there," she said. 

Larger Southland school districts like LAUSD have yet to commit to a reopening plan. Dr. Moore said her district’s reopening was very much a team effort, supported by the school board, staff, parents and the teacher’s union. 

"We’re small and nimble and we’ve been able to make things happen because we have a committed team. This doesn’t happen by happenstance - it takes each and every one of us working hard," she said. 

Parents dropping their kids off Tuesday said they know their children are in good hands and hope that their school can serve as a model for larger districts. 

"I think this is kind of a good stepping stone for LAUSD to also see that this can happen, and if the right steps and measures are taken that they can get the kids back, too. I know they’re bigger districts, so that’s hard but eventually, hopefully, it will happen for everyone as long as we can stay safe," said parent Brianna Smith.

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