Long Beach, Glendale schools to continue distance learning when classes resume this year

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Students walk into Long Beach Polytechnic High School on Feb. 18, 2020. (Credit: KTLA)

Students walk into Long Beach Polytechnic High School on Feb. 18, 2020. (Credit: KTLA)

Students in the Long Beach and Glendale unified school districts won’t be returning to campus when classes resumes this fall; they’ll follow suit with Los Angeles schools in starting the year with online-only instruction, officials announced Tuesday.

A growing number of California school districts are forgoing in-person instruction with the coronavirus crisis showing no sign of letting up without a vaccine. The Orange County Board of Education broke ranks Monday by recommending schools reopen without masks or increased social distancing — but Santa Ana Unified said Tuesday that its classes will be held online.

L.A. County once again broke its record for the number of cases confirmed in a single day Tuesday, with 4,244 new infections. It also reported its highest number of hospitalizations, and the number of new fatalities, 73, is among the highest yet.

Last week, the county’s public health director, Barbara Ferrer, said every district should “have plans in place to continue distance learning for 100% of the time.”

Glendale Unified to offer on-campus child care for some students

The Glendale Board of Education voted Tuesday to begin the 2020-21 school year on Aug. 19, with all instruction held online.

However, some elementary students will participate in on-campus child care during the regular school day, officials said. The service will be prioritized for students who are currently enrolled in state-subsidized child care programs, are homeless or in foster care, and those who are the children of essential workers.

The board said students who report to campus will be grouped into “small, supervised technology learning pods to ensure proper physical distancing.” All students will participate in the same online curriculum, regardless of whether they are on campus or at home.

The district plans to give a Chromebook and internet hotspot to all students who need them. Glendale Unified will also continue to provide free meals for children.

“The health and safety of our students, employees, families, and our broader community is and always will be the utmost important factor in all of our decisions,” Glendale Unified Board President Armina Gharpetian said in a statement. “We are committed to offering a robust online curriculum for our students this fall and we look forward to returning to on-campus classes as soon as it is safe to do so.”

Nearly 26,000 students are enrolled in the district, which includes part of La Cañada-Flintridge, La Crescenta and Montrose, as well as Glendale.

Long Beach Unified promises more rigorous coursework

The Long Beach Unified School District will resume classes Sept. 1, and instruction will remain online only until at least Oct. 5, said Deputy Superintendent Jill Baker, who will officially take over as superintendent Aug. 1.

The district serves more than 72,000 students across 85 campuses in Long Beach, Lakewood, Signal Hill and on Catalina Island.

The decision was made in consultation with the city and county public health departments, and influenced by L.A. Unified’s choice to stick with distance learning, Baker said in a video message.

“Our teams will continue to plan for a robust online instructional program to include daily live lessons, synchronous instruction, grading and attendance taking,” she said. “Our online program for fall will be more intense and consistent than what students experienced following our rapid closure in the spring.”

District officials will be “closely monitoring” data ahead of Oct. 5 to determine how to proceed, she added.

Feedback from the home learning survey circulated among parents will be incorporated into the new year’s structure, according to Baker.

“We’ve heard you. And we have been working diligently with all of that information as we plan for the fall,” she said.

Baker said officials are working to answer more specific questions parents have posed, including about grading, state testing, how teachers will be assigned and support for students with special needs and those with English as a second language.

“We know that we’re not answering the details on your questions right now, but we will in the weeks to come,” she said.

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