MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif. — More than 100 people attended an outdoor rally in Manhattan Beach, headlined by actor Vince Vaughn, urging elected officials to reopen local schools and youth sports. Many of the speakers in attendance argued that the mental and emotional risks of distance learning, and the relative isolation associated with it, are greater than the risks of catching COVID at properly-operated school sites.
“The children will be safer in school where they have the (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines implemented, and kids will be safer on the sports field because the CDC guidelines will be implemented,” said event organizer Tiffany Lynne Wright, a Manhattan Beach resident.
What You Need To Know
More than 100 people gathered at an outdoor rally in Manhattan Beach, urging elected officials to reopen schools and youth sports
Organizers of the event say that they've found widespread support for a safe opening, though it's not commonly agreed what a "safe opening" might look like
In recent weeks, COVID cases have spiked in Los Angeles County and nationwide; LA County is now in the most restrictive tier of the state's reopening plan
High school students admit that their mental health has taken a hit during the pandemic and online classes, but some are worried against reopening too soon
While Vaughn’s was the name on the banner, he was among the most concise speakers of the event.
“There’s a lot of families that are really struggling with social distancing, you know; not all the kids are succeeding on (Zoom) calls, and they need some extra support…some of their study skills aren’t developing in a way that they feel confident for future of their academics,” Vaughn said. “So we feel like there’s room for people to stay home and there’s room to figure out safe ways of geting kids some support in person.”
Though the local Manhattan Beach Unified School District is offering distance learning, with in-person education soon to open for students enrolled in Transitional Kindergarten through Second Grades, Wright’s children are at schools spread across the west. Her oldest, she said, is at a boarding school in Utah, and her youngest (a special-needs student) is in a private school in Orange County, commuting in a regular carpool; the middle son is undergoing distance learning at the local middle school.
“I think we recognize that, while it’s challenging for our kids, they do have technology and things to help,” said Ann Marie Whitney, who organized the event with Wright. “Some school districts don’t have that, and it’s even more challenging.
We recognize how hard it is on our kids, and we want everybody to be elevated and everybody to follow the same CDC guidelines and have the same opportunities.”
When asked what COVID-19 transmission indicators she and other parents thought were proper for reopening schools, Wright said that “the metrics we want are the CDC metrics. We’re not asking for anything more.” On Nov. 17, The Hill reported that the CDC had “quietly removed” documents for reopening schools. A CDC spokesperson told The Hill that “some of the prior content was outdated…the site has been updated to reflect current knowledge about COVID-19 and schools.”
The CDC does still host documents suggesting indicators and thresholds for risks of COVID in schools. One indicator is the rate of new COVID cases per 100,000 people over the last 14 days. Communities with a 14-day case rate between 50 and 200 cases are considered to be areas with a “higher risk of transmission in schools.” Manhattan Beach and its surrounding Beach Cities communities would appear to be in that category based on a review of two weeks of L.A. County COVID reporting statistics.