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.
Under ordinary circumstances, the Crescenta Valley High School football team would have been either celebrating or lamenting the end of the regular season, which originally was to have concluded on Oct. 30. But in a world with COVID-19, everyday life is anything but ordinary. “It’s just so bizarre, and I just can’t believe we’re in November,” said Falcons head coach Hudson Gossard. “Is there a chance of a football season? Who knows?” The California Interscholastic Federation, the state’s governing body for high school athletics, has a schedule in place for fall sports to resume competition in December and January, should public health officials allow it. And if it does, teams in the Glendale Unified School District will certainly be ready.
The Glendale Unified School District unveiled a new dashboard this week to illustrate the level of coronavirus infection among students and staff members involved in the district’s learning pods and athletic conditioning programs. The dashboard, which is slated for regular updates and can be found online, will include current and cumulative confirmed cases as well as positivity and transmission rates at GUSD school sites. Names and other personal information will not be included, to protect privacy. “As we continue the careful and deliberate return of our highest-need students for on-campus child care and instruction, we are counting on our students, families, and employees to help us by taking responsible measures to protect our entire Glendale Unified community.” said Superintendent Vivian Ekchian in a prepared statement. For now, the cumulative and current cases are effectively the same in most situations, given the limited number of students and staff in given areas since the start of the school year.
Since joining the local YWCA four years ago, CEO Tara Peterson has emphasized the “community” in community organization. The institution’s bread and butter has long been its domestic violence emergency shelter and services, but Peterson said she knew upon joining that there were other areas to target in that unsavory but too-real issue. In asking herself “What else?” Peterson said she was motivated to bridge the relationships with faith leaders, civic groups and educational institutions, relationships that helped propel the YWCA Glendale to the forefront of the city’s varied looks-in-the-mirror this year with regard to racism. When she left a Sacramento-based domestic violence organization to journey south and take over this YWCA, Peterson said she strove to “keep the legacy but also move us forward into the 21st century.” The sum of those efforts since then recently arrived at the landmark of being named Assemblywoman Laura Friedman’s Nonprofit of the Year for the Assembly district.
The City Council splintered on a largely symbolic vote to weigh in on Proposition 15, a statewide ballot initiative asking voters to decide whether the state should bump up property tax collections from certain commercial entities. The proposition would require commercial and industrial properties to be taxed based on market values, as opposed to the value of the most recent sale price. (This excludes properties zoned as commercial agriculture.) Advocates of the proposition see it as a way of circumventing Proposition 13, which made all property taxes based on sale price when it was approved by voters in 1978.