School is not typically a child's first choice when it comes to summer activities.
But this year is different.
Summer learning programs at Central Coast schools are expanding and seats are filling up fast.
Central Coast resident, Kira Gonzalez, has seen first-hand how distance learning has affected her young child. Her daughter attends Clarence Ruth Elementary in Lompoc, and like so many others, her education was disrupted by the pandemic.
Gonzalez said enrolling her daughter in the upcoming in-person summer program offered by the Lompoc Unified School District has returned a spark to her daughter’s eyes. “I’m lucky that I have a student that just really loves school. She didn’t lose it over this pandemic, but it’s definitely not the school that she’s loved in the same way,” Gonzalez said. “She was so excited when she found out she would be able to attend and I just love seeing that love of education in her.”
LUSD is reinventing its summer program this year to add curriculum and space for more students. The programs will be offered to all grade levels - from elementary to high school.
Deputy Superintendent, Bree Valla, explained why summer learning is so important this year. ”Students not only get academics from school, but they get so much social experience, they get to interact with friends, especially our youngest, our kindergarteners, that’s where they learn some of those basic skills," said Valla.
A big focus this summer will be on credit recovery - especially for seniors who have failed classes.
But addressing the emotional toll from the pandemic is also a top priority. LUSD has hired four additional counselors to help students deal with the impacts.
Gonzalez is also a counselor at Lompoc High School. “We’ve all realized how important being in school is for our students. Because not only is it the education gap , it’s the social gap, it’s the stress,” said Gonzalez.
The school district is seeing a high demand for these summer learning programs. Valla says there are 1500 spots and there is already a waitlist.
In San Luis Obispo County, the Lucia Mar Unified School District anticipates a record number of students enrolling in its own summer program.
“We are hoping for seats for over 2000 students. Right now we definitely have people who want to get back on track and make sure their kids are ready for school,” said Assistant Superintendent, Hillery Dixon, Lucia Mar Unified School District.
Both districts said the excitement is felt all around - from parents to students to staff.
Dixon said, graduation this year is one step forward towards getting back to normal. “We’re particularly excited this year to have our graduations in-person at all of our schools, but at Arroyo Grande High School and Nipomo High School, in particular, because we are able to unveil our new stadiums that we’ve been working on for years, and now we can have our first graduations in them. So it’s gonna be great.”
Lucia Mar Unified School District's summer learning program dates for elementary and middle school is June 15- July 15. High School has two sessions: June 15 - July 2 and July 6 - July 23.
Lompoc Unified School District's program is June 15 - July 15 for all grade levels.