San Marino Unified School District

2020-2021 School Reopening

Reopening Information

July 26, 2020

Greetings San Marino Parents, Teachers, Staff and Community,

I hope you and your family are having a safe and happy summer with your loved ones.  I know we are all growing weary of being cooped up, but I hope the time has served you well in connecting on deeper levels with those closest to you.  Not much has changed since my last update on July 20th, but I want to share some information with you concerning the recent School Board meeting, next steps, communications from the County of Los Angeles, and a special high school graduation ceremony happening at the end of this week. 

This past Tuesday, July 21st, we held the second of two Special Board meetings in July where District and site administration, along with Jessica Bulgin of the San Marino Teachers Association, presented on the opening of the 2020-21 school year.  In response to Governor Newsom’s mandate to physically close schools in counties on the state Monitoring List -- including Los Angeles County -- and with school resuming on August 12th, the main focus of the information provided was on distance learning.  Schedules for both elementary and secondary virtual academies were shared, and detailed information was provided about expectations for quality instruction and enrichment programs. Although much work is being done to ensure an excellent distance learning educational experience through the virtual academies, the District is also continuing to prepare for a physical reopening of our four schools when able, including:

  • After our virtual school year opens, District administration, along with SMTA and CSEA leadership, will collectively and regularly monitor state and local information to reassess when a physical reopening of schools will be possible; 
  • When cleared to do so, and depending on exactly what the health order directs us to do, we anticipate that a decision will be made to move to some type of hybrid or blended model of instruction, where both in-person and distance learning will be considered and possible. When that time comes, there will be an “appropriate amount of time” between the decision and implementation to ensure a safe and productive environment for learning; 
  • District administration and SMTA have worked extensively on a hybrid model of teaching and learning that also includes a 100% distance learning component.  While being forced to open from a distance, we will continue to refine instructional models in anticipation of a physical reopening of schools; 
  • The District will provide high quality training and professional development for our teachers, counselors and staff to best prepare them for both virtual and hybrid instruction;
  • The School Reopening Task Force (SRTF) will continue to provide input and guidance as this crisis continues to unfold.  In the days ahead, the SRTF will be addressing the recently released Los Angeles County Department of Health (LADPH) protocols that need to be met prior to reopening once Governor Newsom’s order is lifted, implementation of the safety practices and equipment needed for student and staff wellness, ongoing communication with and input from the community, student and staff wellness programs, and continued work on virtual and hybrid learning.

We continue to learn about best practices and legal mandates to ensure student and employee health and safety.  This past Thursday, July 23rd, L.A. County superintendents “met” with LADPH’s Dr. Ferrer concerning the latest updates from the state and county.  Dr. Ferrer reported that L.A. County is one of 35 counties currently on the Monitoring List and stressed that the two markers needed to exit the list are currently problematic for our county -- a high daily positivity rate (must be <8% for 14 consecutive days) and an average of 300+ cases per 100,000 (must be <100:100,000).  She spoke to the “waiver” for elementary schools mentioned by Governor Newsom and stated that it would mostly benefit private and charter schools.

In exciting news, we will be holding a parade-style SMHS Class of 2020 graduation on Friday, July 31.  Details have been sent to students and families.  It is with mixed emotions that we have to celebrate this important milestone in such a distant and controlled way, but it does not take away from the pride and love we have for this very special class of students and their families.  I look forward to future celebrations for these students and want them to know we appreciate them, celebrate with them, and look forward to hearing the many ways they will positively and profoundly impact the world.

On a final note, it is with great sadness that we say “farewell” to two fine SMUSD leaders and people.  Dr. Isaaic Gates has accepted an offer to serve as an elementary principal in his former district.  Isaaic will have the rare opportunity to be his child’s principal AND work just minutes from his home.  We are so very happy for Isaaic, Rasheedah and their family and CONGRATULATE and thank him for his service to SMUSD.  Isaaic's warm and loving personality will certainly be missed.

Additionally, Dr. Soomin Chao has accepted an elementary principal position in a nearby district.  I want to thank Soomin for her hard work and commitment to SMUSD these past several years.   Earning her first principalship is a big deal and well-deserved -- we wish Soomin much success in her new position.  We will immediately commence a search for a quality individual to serve alongside Mr. Kurtenbach as the Assistant Principal of San Marino High School.

Like you, I look forward to the day when this crisis is behind us and we are able to come back together to enjoy games, concerts, parent parties, assemblies, clubs, live PTA meetings and the rest of what makes the San Marino experience so special.  Despite the change and upheaval, I remain committed to moving the District forward with outstanding and innovative instruction, rigorous learning opportunities, the development of outstanding instructional leaders throughout the District, opportunities for our students to connect with teachers, counselors and peers, and providing our kids the best comprehensive education possible.

Stay well and be strong,


Dr. Jeff Wilson