SANTA MONICA — After a recommendation from SMMUSD Superintendent Dr. Ben Drati, the SMMUSD school board voted to begin the school year this fall remotely.

“Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District staff will recommend that the School Board announce a plan to reopen with distance learning,” Drati wrote in a statement released earlier this week on July 14.

Drati noted that SMMUSD had been preparing and hoping to institute a hybrid system since late spring, one of the three options SMMUSD was considering for the 2020-2021 school year.

However, the “steady upsurge in coronavirus cases in our region over the past several weeks combined with the advice of public health experts,” led SMMUSD to recommend to begin the school completely remotely.

SMMUSD presented parents with a presentation and survey regarding the three potential school re-opening plans earlier in July. Option A was full in person, Option B was a hybrid of in-person and online, and Option C was completely remote.

In the survey response data shown at the School Board’s meeting, parents views on which plan the school system should adopt were near an even split. 35% preferred option A, 35% preferred option B, and 30% preferred option C. The survey also showed that the majority of staff indicated they would be able to return in person this fall.

Drati noted that conducting school virtually would allow schools to fully prepare for a socially distanced system and would give SMMUSD the “opportunity to fully implement these recommendations and prepare for the return of students and staff as quickly and safely as possible.”

Superintendent Drati ended his statement recommending distanced learning acknowledging the challenge now presented to families, vowing to address these concerns, and deliver a more detailed remote learning plan during the next month and beyond.