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City Extends Closures Through April, Schools Shuttered Until Further Notice
 

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By Jorge Casuso

March 27, 2020 -- All public spaces and City facilities in Santa Monica will remain closed through at least April 30, and local public schools will remain shuttered until further notice, City and School District officials announced.

The City's latest order, issued Friday, also suspends rent payments for City tenants that have been forced to shut down during the coronavirus emergency, including those with outdoor dining licenses and businesses on the Pier.

The City also can delay responding to public records requests that require "searches that are hindered by emergency operations and closures."

“We need everyone to use common sense to help flatten the curve," City Manager Rick Cole said in a statement after authorizing the latest order.

"The situation is changing by the day, sometimes by the hour. City government is working to enforce State and County orders fairly and consistently.

"We are acutely aware of the adverse impact on our residents, businesses and workers and ask for patience, good will and neighborliness so we get through this together,” Cole said.

Previously scheduled events at all City facilities will be canceled and those who reserved a space will be informed of their eligibility for refunds.

Fire Department Annual Permits of Operation that are currently set to expire on May 1 will now expire on June 1, City officials said.

And late payment fees for City leases and licenses are waived through April 30.

"City Hall and all non-essential City public counters will also remain closed to the public until April 30, 2020," City officials said. "City staff continue to serve the public remotely."

City officials advise members of the public to call or check the City's website "before coming to any City facility in person to conduct business."

Meanwhile, the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD)announced late Wednesday that schools will remain closed until further notice, with distance learning continuing.

The District had initially planned to reopen April 20 but will await the direction of Governor Gavin Newsom, the Los Angeles County Departments of Public Health (LACDPH) and the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE).

"We realize how much of a burden and stress school closures have on the daily lives of our families and staff," Drati wrote in a letter to parents, guardians and staff.

"We will continue to improve on the delivery of distance learning so that the education of our students continues as effectively as possible given the circumstances."

The District next week plans to deploy digital devices and wifi connectivity to all students who may need it, Drati said.

"Ensuring that all of our students have a device enhances our staff’s ability to deliver curriculum more effectively," he said.

The District will continue to offer free breakfast and lunch to students enrolled in any District school or program.

The "grab-and-go" bagged meals can be picked up between 7 and 9 a.m. at Santa Monica High School, McKinley Elementary and Will Rogers Learning Community in Santa Monica and Webster Elementary in Malibu.

"This is a very challenging time for all of us as parents, teachers, district staff, administrators and community members," Drati wrote in his letter.

"We have our elderly relatives to worry about, we are caring for our children at home, while many of us, including our teachers, are working from home.

"We understand that some of our SMMUSD families are facing challenging employment situations and business slowdowns that are impacting people financially and emotionally," Drati wrote.

"Be safe out in the community and take care of one another."


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