By Jennifer Holm & Jennifer Schacher, PVUSD Board President & Vice-President
In a little less than a month, the Pajaro Valley Unified School District school year draws to a close, and we move into summer. While the gap between June and August can be a time where the rigor of the traditional school year lessens, there are also opportunities for further learning and development. We are excited to offer robust summer programs that include academic as well as social-emotional support.
Notice that we did not refer to the 2020-21 school year as a “regular” school year. Very little about this past year has felt regular. Even without a global pandemic that has upended plans and expectations for well over a year now, students often experience a summer learning loss. For our most vulnerable students, the effects are more keenly felt. Summer school sessions are traditionally a time for students to close learning gaps and to maintain hard-won progress. With the use of one-time funds through the Expanded Opportunities Learning Grant, PVUSD is continuing and expanding upon our programs and extending the option of structured summer learning to all our students.
The social-emotional components of our programs help support all our students, but especially those most affected by distancing requirements. For our students needing targeted support in this area, our social-emotional counselors can refer students to Camp Connect, which utilizes small cohort groupings for sports, art and social-emotional learning. But even for our students who do not need that level of focus, our in-person sessions provide students with the chance to connect with peers and teachers. Especially for those who may have limited options for connecting with peers outside of the school environment, these venues for social connection are critical for emotional development.
Furthermore, our programs support physical health by providing meals to all students who attend and increasing opportunities for safe physical activity. Multiple studies have shown that summer programs can help with heart health and overall physical wellbeing. Extended Learning’s Fitness 4 Life program will offer races and health challenges, as well as a fitness map for local county parks and outdoor spaces.
Our summer programs are a way for students to continue the trajectory towards full-day, in-person instruction that we started this Spring with the phased-in approach of school reopening. They are also a way to ease the transition between settings. For example, our high schools are offering “Step Up to Highschool.” The week-long orientation gives freshman and sophomores an on-campus session to learn about their school and expectations.
Regardless of attendance in our summer programming, K-8 students can pick up a Summer Learning Packet. The packet will include books, a summer writing journal, and a Weekly Reader Express that provides students with engaging activities to encourage our students to stay involved in learning during the summer months. We are also continuing our partnership with Watsonville Library for our Summer Reading Challenge, where students can utilize books from school to advance their summer reading at home and win fun prizes.
We also are offering programs with a particular focus. For those K-8 students interested in science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM), we will have kits, websites, online camps, and in-person activities. They will explore science, coding, visual arts, music, drama, fitness, nutrition, and more. In addition to programs throughout the summer, our Migrant Summer Supplemental Support Services will maintain its partnership with Cabrillo College, where migrant students can earn high school and college credit. Our Extended School Year (ESY) program will serve our Special Education students at five different sites, and we will continue to support our SELPA students through integrated summer programming.
As a board, it has been vital to us to support the whole student. Our PVUSD community has a wide range of backgrounds, needs, and interests. We feel that our district’s progress in offering enriching summer programs is a positive step in fulfilling our mission of preparing students to reach their highest potential for success.
Session One runs from June 14-July 9, and Session Two runs from July 14-Aug 4. Additional information will be sent out to PVUSD families via text and email and is available at asp.pvusd.net/. Registration information about the second session will come directly from the school sites.
A humbling aspect of becoming a school board trustee is realizing how many different considerations go into every decision. This column is PVUSD’s community outreach to clarify how the board arrives at its decisions. Jennifer Holm is President of the PVUSD Board of Trustees and Jennifer Schacher is the Vice-President. Their views are her own and not necessarily those of the Pajaronian. Contact Holm at [email protected] and Schacher at [email protected].