By Ally Lanasa, Staff Writer
(June 25, 2020) The Worcester County Board of Education has modified its summer educational opportunities so learning can continue after an unusual end to the school year.
The county’s summer school program will begin on July 13 and will run for five weeks.
“This summer, we’re going to focus really on our at-risk students, and that doesn’t necessarily mean just our special ed or IEP students,” said Coordinator of Instruction Tamara Mills. “It also means students who may be socially or emotionally at risk.”
Ten to 13 students per grade and per school will be recruited for the summer school programs.
“We’re going to be going off of special education recommendations, and then also the schools will be talking to counselors and therapists and social workers to find out who those students are that have mental and emotional needs,” Mills said.
Typically, the goal of summer learning is to focus on intervention and remediation, but this year the focus will be on frontloading the students for next school year’s learning concepts as well as maintaining social and emotional learning (SEL) connections for at-risk students.
“In a lot of cases, covid was a trauma for our kids and families, so we’re going to need some trauma-informed instruction and care for them as we return,” Mills said.
Throughout the summer, regular face-to-face or online meetings with families will be conducted to increase engagement.
In addition, assessment will differ from years past.
“We don’t have the typical baseline data that we would normally have going into the summer,” Mills said.
There will be a de-emphasis on summative or structured assessments, except when necessary for credit recovery.
Rather than a traditional grading system, teachers will implement a qualitative system to document student progress.
As for professional learning and teacher collaboration, the standard half-day classroom set-up is now two days.
Teachers will then participate in daily or weekly joint planning on lessons that include SEL components and interventions.
The content for this summer will be reading/ELA, math, physical education and social-emotional learning as recommended by the Council of Chief State School Officers.
Mills presented a sample school day from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Students will receive free breakfast and lunch on school days.
There will be about eight summer schools for at-risk students that will receive funding.
Another five schools will be funded by 21st CCLC grants.
Mills said they are still working out the details for new health and safety requirements such as obtaining PPE and how to properly disinfect classrooms.
For students who will not be invited to summer school, Coordinator of Instruction Jennifer Sills said a list of resources for students will be posted on worcesterk12.org.
“All of the websites that we found and the programs that we found are intended to really just foster that enrichment and exploration of students’ individual interests for the summer or allow them to review key skills or just encourage continued learning for our students,” Sills said.
In addition, other programs, such as Dreambox Learning, American Reading Company and i-Ready, will be made accessible to students for the summer.
“We wanted to ensure that all of our students still had an opportunity to continue their learning and have some enrichment,” Sills said.