A combination of factors led by the one-year shutdown of COVID-19 has spurred massive enrollment in the district’s Support, Enrichment and Accelerated Learning Program, abbreviated as SEAL, which takes place over the summer.
LBUSD has 14,351 students enrolled in SEAL or traditional high school credit recovery programs, or over 20% of LBUSD students. Compare that to the 5,433 traditional summer school students in 2018, or the 8,663 in 2019 after the district first introduced SEAL, and it is evident that this year is unique (there was very little in-person summer programs in 2020 due to the pandemic).
“The reality is that in our summer program this year, the number of students enrolled is larger than many school districts in the state of California,” said Brian Moskovitz, LBUSD deputy superintendent for early learning. and elementary schools, and one of the administrators who run the SEAL program.
Indeed, enrolling more than 14,000 students would place the summer program in the top 10% of the state’s largest school districts. Moskovitz said that in 2019, the district allocated surplus funds to SEAL in an attempt to turn the negative connotations around “summer schools” into a summer program that really attracted students.
“We’ve always had a summer school program in different versions,” he said. “But the summer school has always had a reputation for remediation. Two summers ago we launched SEAL as a summer program that included enrichment and was available for general education students, bringing cool enrichment programs so it wasn’t just for students who needed remedial support.
This change resulted in an increase in enrollment, as parents were drawn to a broader range of classes than math and “catch-up” English. The SEAL program offers reading, writing, math, science, poetry, drawing, painting and language courses in double immersion. Moskovitz said many people in the district were excited about the SEAL program, which spans several offices at different levels within the administration.
Due to the loss of learning associated with COVID-19 closures – as well as the social isolation experienced by many students – he said the district had really attacked this summer as a way to start changing things before the ‘autumn.
“Knowing that we would be able to deliver a program in person and what the learning was like over the past 18 months, we intended to create a strong program,” he said. “We have a comprehensive art program, for example, based on socio-emotional learning. “
The SEAL program not only serves to catch up with students who may have fallen behind in the past school year, it also serves as a reintroduction to in-person learning for many students. Moskovitz said final numbers were not yet available, but that a “significant” portion of summer enrollments included students who did not return for in-person learning in the spring.
“For many of our students, this is the ramp back to in-person learning,” he said.
Much attention will be given to reopening LBUSD when the new school year begins at the end of August, with campuses reopened to full capacity for the first time since COVID-19 closed them in March 2020. But many students have had their first glimpse of campus life in 15 months this summer thanks to SEAL and are also reintegrated into school routines with SEAL programs which will be reused in the fall.
Even for those students who attended school in the spring, many were only in person for half the day or every other day. The SEAL program is much closer to the regular school schedule that students will see in the fall.
“Our plan is that we’re fully set to reopen with all in-person learning this fall,” Moskovitz said. “We recognize that in those first few weeks, if you have 20 to 25 kids back in class, we will need to help people reintegrate, by creating routines and community, and by empowering students who haven’t. not SEAL to do some of this. “
Moskovitz said he had been in several classrooms over the last few weeks of the program and saw firsthand what this transition looked like for students. Normal art programs like creating a family shield contribute to socio-emotional learning goals of helping students reintegrate, as young students use their representations of family life to express what their family has. lived in the past year.
“With socio-emotional learning, we try to make sure they have ways to express themselves if they are frustrated and give them the opportunity to express their identity and share about themselves”, did he declare.
Moskovitz, whose work focuses him on the district’s youngest students, also said he was blown away by how quickly children bounced around in the classrooms he visited.
“The students are incredibly well behaved and engaged. You won’t notice from surface behaviors that they’ve been out of school for a year and a half, ”he said. “They are resilient.”
After a bleak year, LBUSD hopes for full-time in-person classes next year