GUSD Expands Summer Offerings to Combat Learning Loss

The Glendale Unified School District will offer a variety of free, in-person programming this summer in an effort to help fill the educational and social gaps created this school year by circumstances resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.
Throughout June, July and August, the district will host programs for all levels of education and expand the offerings from prior programs, which were typically run through third parties outside of the district. In an effort to promote equity throughout the diverse school district, GUSD has taken over operation of those programs, including accelerated programs.
“These are the courses that have typically been offered through the Glendale Educational Foundation,” explained Chris Coulter, director of teaching and learning, at this week’s school board meeting, “which provides additional opportunities for students to take health for free. Health, math, science and history are the most common of the acceleration courses.”
Two sessions of expanded learning for high school students will be available at all high schools in the district. Although courses will primarily be in-person, there also will continue to be remote learning offered to offset any coronavirus concerns. In addition to accelerated classes for students, the sessions will offer credit recovery opportunities.
“In the past, acceleration courses were costly for parents, because they had to pay for it,” Superintendent Vivian Ekchian said Tuesday. “This is, to my knowledge, the first year where acceleration courses — offered through the school district and employed by our own teachers — will be free to our parents. It’s not a haves or have-nots story of who can accelerate their learning. It’s really leveling the opportunity field for all of our students.”
The middle school summer session will essentially follow the same framework, with a more rigid four-period day offering math, English language arts and two electives.
Camp EXCEL (standing for Excited to Connect, Engage and Learn) will be available at all elementary schools and will include childcare before and after daily sessions. It will include math, English language arts and English language development and may offer enrichment opportunities such as dual immersion, STEAM, physical education, visual and performance arts, and social-emotional learning as well.
Critically, there will also be an elementary extended school year offered at four sites — Cerritos, Columbus, Lincoln and Mann elementary schools. These in-person programs will “focus on academic instruction and building social skills,” according to GUSD, and will offer targeted support for students with special needs.
Additionally, Elementary Campalooza will run from July 6 through Aug. 13 and will include the district’s community partners — such as the city or the YMCA — that have, in the past, offered their own “competing” programs.
“Rather than partners competing against one another, we’ve asked them to also share their best practices on our campuses so we’ve united the community in this effort to support and serve our youth this summer,” Ekchian said.
School board members viewed the development as a “silver lining” to the coronavirus pandemic, as Armina Gharpetian said, because it forced the district into action after being hung up on implementing equity changes in the past.
“It is truly exciting to see the breadth of offerings for our families over the summer,” school board President Shant Sahakian said. “Just imagine if we can continue building this and continue offering this moving forward and the long-term impact it’s going to have on all of our students and children.”
For more detailed information and scheduling breakdowns, visit the district’s website at gusd.net.