The Glendale Unified School District this week proposed beginning in-person instruction across its elementary schools starting with TK-2nd-grade students on Monday, March 29, and bringing 3rd-6th graders back the following week. This proposal was part of a response to the Glendale Teachers Association made this week after the union made its counter-proposal to the district during negotiations. The district also asked for preschool and elementary teachers, Child Development and Child Care teachers and elementary specialists, nurses and counselors to report to their sites on Tuesday, March 23, and have five paid instructional work days to prepare their classrooms and engage in professional development.
USC Verdugo Hills Hospital and other institutions will begin vaccinating area elementary school teachers for COVID-19 next week, including Glendale Unified School District teachers who choose to sign up for the inoculation. The hospital will take 350 teachers on Monday and another 350 on Thursday and aims to continue its vaccination work with additional teachers and members of the community, as eligibility increases. The concrete plan is a welcome development weeks after the initial rollout for vaccinating teachers was delayed because of supply issues. Additionally, Adventist Health Glendale and Glendale Memorial Hospital also will be handling vaccinations for GUSD teachers.
The Glendale Unified School District plans to transition into its hybrid education program for elementary schools in March, which has long been designated as the next major decision point for the district with regard to pandemic protocol. The decision comes this week following the announcement from county officials that elementary schools could reopen their doors for limited in-person instruction, with or without the waivers they may have applied for. Those officials had anticipated this week that adjusted daily new coronavirus cases in Los Angeles County would fall below 25 new cases per 100,000 residents each day — the threshold for reopening elementary schools while in the purple tier.
The Glendale Unified School District will begin applying for waivers for the remainder of its elementary schools to resume limited in-person instruction, weeks after the district piloted a reopening at s. Meanwhile, district officials plan to keep a close eye on the ever-changing situation with regard to the pandemic and the plethora of restrictions it brings from county, state and federal leaders. For now, distance learning continues to be the primary teaching mechanism, and the board of education expects its next decision to be by March 12, the end of the third quarter and on the cusp of spring break. “The end of the third quarter and the day before spring break seemed to be a good decision at the time,” Superintendent Vivian Ekchian said, “but I do want to repeat that if we maintain a purple tier as a school district and county, it will be difficult to make decisions any differently than what we’ve made so far.”
In anticipation of a coronavirus surge believed to be exacerbated by the December holidays, the Glendale Unified School District on Monday is pausing all in-person activities on campuses for the remainder of January. The district tentatively plans to resume these programs on Monday, Feb. 1, but those plans, as with most things in the era of the coronavirus, are fluid. The latest decision comes by “strong recommendation” — not mandate — from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health that “all TK-12 schools in the county suspend in-person student instruction, services and activities during the month of January as much as possible,” according to the district.
The Glendale Unified School District is prepared to bring select students back for in-person instruction at Horace Mann Elementary School starting on Monday. A portion of transitional kindergarten and regular kindergarten students will return to class at the elementary school, split into small groups so as to allow for proper social distancing and hygiene protocols. District officials plan to evaluate the return process and adapt to allow 1st- and 2nd-grade students to tentatively join them in the coming weeks. The school will be making use of technology to allow students who remain at home under distance learning protocol to receive their instruction simultaneous to the in-person teaching that will now happen.
The Glendale Unified School District has committed to continuing distance teaching through at least March 12, with the current surge in coronavirus cases essentially pulling the plug on any potential plans to add more in-person programming at the start of 2021. Superintendent Vivian Ekchian and the district’s board of education emphatically made that pledge at last week’s meeting, the last of 2020. As for wider in-person instruction, officials also acknowledged the very real possibility that they could move the goalposts further away as they approach March, depending on how Los Angeles County fares through the pandemic. “We will continue to engage in distance learning,” Ekchian said. “We are not interested in bringing more personnel back to our campuses — teachers, counselors, nurses, itinerant personnel, teacher specialists — during a surge. We will have to hope for the best. March 12 is the end of the third quarter; it seems to be the best next step in terms of our making safe decisions for all employees, students and the community. We are not making decisions beyond that, because much can change between now and then.”
For its response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Glendale Unified School District was tabbed as the Organization of the Year by the Crescenta Valley Chamber of Commerce in the group’s annual recognition awards last week. One of the district’s board members, Jennifer Freemon, also was named Educator of the Year by the chamber. Overall, the organization handed out 10 awards in a virtual ceremony last week. In its program, the chamber highlighted what it described as a nimble response by the GUSD when the pandemic struck in March, prompting school closures and stay-at-home orders from the county. The district distributed laptops for students to use in distance learning and prepared to-go breakfasts and lunches every day for all children in the city who needed them.
Glendale Unified School District offered free, drive-thru COVID-19 testing for all employees on Monday after the Thanksgiving holiday break. The district organized a temporary drive-thru testing site at Glendale High School in partnership with Vital Medical Services. The rapid-response nasal swab test was provided to any GUSD employee who wanted it. “We are happy to offer our employees access to convenient drive-thru COVID-19 testing as a proactive measure to ensure our community stays safe and healthy,” said Armina Gharpetian, president of the GUSD Board of Education, in a statement. Employees received their results within 10 to 20 minutes. The district reported that 263 employees out of more than 2,600 took tests on Monday. “Student and employee health and safety is and always will be our top priority,” Superintendent Vivian Ekchian said in a statement. “As we continue to provide essential services for our community, we are taking all responsible measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
Voters returned a number of local incumbents to their state and federal seats Tuesday at a comfortable margin, while Los Angeles County will see changeover at the district attorney’s office. Statewide, voters also defeated Proposition 15 — a measure supported by both the City Council and the Glendale Unified School District that would have increased property tax funding at a local level — while approving Proposition 17, which restores voting rights for convicted felons after their prison terms end. As of press deadline on Friday, Democratic nominee Joe Biden looked poised to unseat President Donald Trump after taking or maintaining vote leads in key electoral states Arizona, Georgia and Pennsylvania.