California school districts prepare for summer school

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Posted at 1:22 PM, Jun 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-04 01:34:42-04

The end of another school year means the start of summer break for some, but for others, it means summer school. This year, certain school districts are making changes to their summer programs after an unprecedented year due to the pandemic.

"This year, even though I haven't done summer school, I saw the need," said Laura Flessner, a sixth-grade teacher at Branch Elementary School in Arroyo Grande.

Flessner is just days away from wrapping up the 2020-21 school year. But shortly after the year ends, she'll return to the classroom to teach kindergarten during summer school, and this time the entire session will be in person.

"I see it as a chance to help the students catch up, even create the normalcy because we're getting back into a hybrid model and getting the kids back to school and setting up those procedures, and now they're going to be off to summer," Flessner said.

Hillery Dixon, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction for the Lucia Mar Unified School District, says the district has hired 100 teachers to teach summer school across multiple campuses. It's in preparation for the at least 1,000 students from elementary to high school that are expected to enroll.

"This year, throughout the pandemic and the school closure for part of the year, has been really difficult for students, and staff, and families," Dixon said. "And despite the best efforts of our incredible teachers and all our students, there's just some students who have really struggled throughout the year."

In San Diego County, a program called Level Up SD will help offset the widespread learning loss that resulted in the past school year during the pandemic. The program is being funded through local non-profits and $31 million from the Board of Education.

"We know with a little bit of support our kids will go forward and do things well beyond any of our imagination," said Richard Barrera, San Diego Unified School Board Member.

Last year, one in five high school students in the county was not on track to graduate in June. This came at the heels of increased percentages of D's and F's across high school and middle school-aged students. The unique peg of the Level Up SD program is that classes and activities are offered in-person and the subjects covered are broad. Those subjects range from composing music and learning guitar, to exploring science, learning how to swim, photography, and a lot more.

Around 20,000 of the 135,000 students in the district have signed up so far.

In Kern County, Kern School District will be furthering its discussions on summer school during a board meeting scheduled for June 7.