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La Jolla public schools look ahead to summer and 2021-22 academic year; LJHS graduation is June 11

Members of the La Jolla Cluster Association hear plans for summer and beyond at the group's April 15 meeting.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

With the San Diego Unified School District — including its five public schools that make up the La Jolla Cluster — having returned to campuses last week for onsite/online hybrid instruction, district staff is eyeing the summer and beyond.

The summer program currently planned “will not be the traditional credit-recovery summer school,” district board member Michael McQuary, whose District C includes La Jolla, said at the April 15 meeting of the La Jolla Cluster Association.

This year, he said, “the school board directed the superintendent to develop a robust 2021 ‘summer experience,’” the district’s replacement term for “summer school.”

The program will be available to all students — from transitional kindergarten through 12th grade — who choose to attend, McQuary said. It will include “academic, social, emotional, project-based and enrichment components.”

Schools offering the summer program will be determined after surveys are sent out and returned. McQuary urged parents to respond to the surveys, saying responses are “critical” to determining the numbers of teachers and support staff needed.

“The district and school site instructional teams are encouraged to be creative and explore innovative programs, models and activities,” he said. “Schools have a great deal of flexibility in creating what they believe will be a meaningful experience for their students in their neighborhoods.”

McQuary said several options are being explored, such as combining “morning academic options with afternoon enrichment options,” and that “the schedule could be planned around a four-week program for elementary students and two consecutive three-week programs for secondary students.”

McQuary said he hopes further details will be available by the end of April or early May.

La Jolla High School graduation ceremony

La Jolla High School Principal Chuck Podhorsky said the school’s senior class will have its graduation ceremony at 11:30 a.m. Friday, June 11, at Petco Park in downtown San Diego.

He said all district high schools will hold commencement ceremonies that day.

The LJHS time slot “will give a nice break in the day for students to go down, take pictures downtown and enjoy the afternoon with their families,” Podhorsky said.

Fall plan includes full schedule and online option

“I anticipate that all schools will be open in the fall with a full schedule,” McQuary said. “There will be an online option for parents requesting virtual learning. These students will be assigned to online-only classrooms with a designated online teacher.”

He said “there will not be simultaneous teaching” as there is now, with teachers instructing groups of students both onsite and online. “The online students will be assigned an online teacher who will have an online classroom.”

The San Diego Unified School District has completed its first week of reopening schools for all students who want to go back, and its Area 5 superintendent, Mitzi Merino, praised La Jolla teachers, school leaders and parents for a “smooth transition” from a year of online learning to a hybrid of online and onsite instruction.

Families who enroll in either in-person or online-only but then change their minds might be allowed to switch, McQuary said. “As I understand it, it would probably be on a first-come availability basis. We would want our parents to seriously consider their options [and] make the decisions they need to make for their safety, security and comfort level.”

“Teachers will probably be given an option to either be onsite or online,” which will determine staffing needs, McQuary said.

The 2021-22 academic year is scheduled to begin Monday, Aug. 30.

‘Fractured’ cluster community needs repair, parent says

Jenn Beverage, a cluster parent and the representative of the cluster’s social-emotional learning committee, said “the cluster needs to consider what its role is in the overall sort of atmosphere of our school community.”

Citing recent division among parents regarding reopening schools and the management of online learning, Beverage said there are “a lot of parents that are showing up incredibly frustrated, still frustrated.”

“I think that while we can be, and I am, incredibly happy and positive to be back at school, I’m wondering if we can think, ‘What is the cluster’s role in trying to repair?’ and consider how to rebuild because there’s a lot of feelings,” she said.

She encouraged the Cluster Association to try to “rebuild some of the community that maybe has been fractured a bit in this process this year.”

Torrey Pines Elementary School Principal Nona Richard said she wanted to “acknowledge that although there are a lot of celebrations, we have a lot of work to do.”

The final meeting of the school year for the La Jolla Cluster Association will be at 4:15 p.m. Thursday, May 20. Learn more at lajollacluster.com.