About 80 people, including actor Vince Vaughn, gathered with their children at Manhattan Beach's Polliwog Park on Wednesday afternoon, Nov. 18, for a demonstration urging county health officials to allow students from third to sixth grade back on campuses — at least locally.

The protesters generally wore masks and maintained social distance.

Manhattan Beach Unified School District students, like the rest of students county-wide, have been attending classes virtually since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

The parents at the protest argued that Manhattan Beach should be allowed to decide when it's safe for students to return to school independent of the county — despite state rules saying otherwise.

“Kids can’t walk up to the desk and ask questions, some of their study skills are not developing in a way where they feel confident for the future of their academics,” said Vaughn, a Manhattan Beach parent who co-organized the event. “We feel like there’s room for people to stay home and there’s also room for people to figure out safe ways of getting some kids support in person who are wanting that.”

The county health officials, in a Wednesday, Nov. 18 statement, disagreed.

“The state does not allow counties to apply different tier restrictions to different communities within the county,” a spokesperson for the county Public Health Department wrote via email. “No city or community is completely isolated from adjacent cities and communities, so what goes on in one area, does impact other areas.”

Manhattan Beach Unified School District will bring students from transitional kindergarten to second grade back to campuses on Dec. 1.

The district has received approval from the LA County Department of Public Health to let those students return to campus on a hybrid basis — meaning part of their instruction will remain virtual. December, said Superintendent Mike Matthews, will be a test run to to gauge how the district’s procedures are working.

Contact Lisa Jacobs lisa.jacobs@TBRnews.com or follow her on Twitter @lisaannjacobs.

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