The City Council affirmed its commitment to fostering a city that is inclusive of its diversity this week, unequivocally condemning a national surge in hateful rhetoric and violence toward Asian and Pacific Islander Americans in a resolution. The condemnation was issued a week after a 21-year-old white man killed eight people in a shooting spree in Atlanta-area spas, six of whom were Asian women. That tragedy followed a year in which Asian and Pacific Islander residents across the country have reported a rise in harassment and attacks by others, a trend corresponding to the coronavirus’ origins in China. In recent months, these attacks have grown increasingly violent and deadly.
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.
Athletes and coaches throughout Los Angeles County finally heard the announcement they have been waiting for: High school athletics are officially a go. L.A. Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer announced Wednesday that the county would update its Protocols for Youth and Adult Sports League to align with the state’s guidelines, allowing outdoor sports to begin practice and competition this week. It has been 11 months since an official high school game was played in L.A. County. Schools closed their doors last March to minimize the spread of COVID-19, and public health officials did not allow any competition or practice of any kind.
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.”
A project that was first conceived nearly a decade ago, the swimming pool being added to Glendale High School’s campus is just about ready to launch. Pending approval from health inspectors, the pool is expected to be filled with water soon, after which the necessary sanitizing chemicals will be mixed and added to prepare it for use. The Glendale Unified School District anticipates that GHS’ swimming and water polo teams will be able to use it for workouts this spring. “We’re getting close to wrapping it up,” said Hagop Kassabian, the GUSD administrator for planning, development and facilities. “All in all, I think we’re looking pretty good to have water in the pool by late February or early March.”
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.
Mountain Avenue Elementary in La Crescenta has been recognized as a 2020 National Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education, the Glendale Unified School District announced. The National Blue Ribbon is a widely recognized symbol of exemplary teaching and learning. The designation affirms the hard work of educators, families and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging and engaging content.
The student body at the Glendale Unified School District can officially turn to high school senior Kayla Rodriguez when it wants questions or concerns directed to the Board of Education. Rodriguez, Associated Student Body president at Glendale High School, was officially sworn in as the student representative on the school board last week. As she took the oath while maintaining a social distance from the board and wearing a face mask, she admitted to being caught up with nerves at that moment.
So far, so good for the learning pods that serve many of the Glendale Unified School District’s elementary students. District officials reported to the GUSD Board of Education this week that no evidence indicates any transmission of COVID-19 among students or staff members involved in the learning pods. Four weeks into the school year, the news came as a relief to officials of the district, which is among the local pioneers of the system.