Districts finding alternative methods to host summer school

PULASKI COUNTY, ARKANSAS, Ark. — Summer school will look a lot different this year with COVID-19 keeping students and educators away from classrooms.

The Arkansas Department of Education said ‘no’ to transporting students due to COVID-19, so districts are finding other ways to hold summer school.

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“In traditional years, we would offer an onsite and a virtual school option for 9th through 12th grade,” PCSSD Digital Learning Facilitator Rachel Blackwell said.

Districts can have virtual summer school, continuing teletherapy, and deliver educational materials and meals.

The Pulaski County Special School Districts is taking the virtual summer school route from June 8 through July 16 and will waive the $180 fee for all students.

“The students will just sign up, so if they are in it and they only have one class, they can take the whole six weeks or they can go a little shorter if they want,” Blackwell said.

However, they plan to see a lot less faces this summer.

“With our grading policy, with the way we did it for second semester, I don’t know that as many students will need it for that,” Blackwell said.

The North Little Rock School District also expects to see less students in their elementary program.

“We had planned for about 275 and right now, our numbers are less than 50,” NLRSD Executive Director of Elementary Education Lori Smith said.

They’ll offer virtual summer school for kids through the end of June.

“These are students that were actively participating in the AMI days,” Smith said.

Both districts will allow students to use school laptops and iPads to do their work.

“We’re allowing them to keep those devices until basically the end of June,” Smith said.

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In a statement, Benton Schools spokesperson Isabella Bradley said: 

“As we finish off the 2019-2020 school year, the Benton School District is working to determine the best way to meet our students needs during the summer months, while keeping their health and safety as a top priority. Right now we have plans to host summer school virtually or through packets similar to how we finished off the school year.”

The Arkansas Department of Education said staying cautious now increases the likelihood of being in phase 2 or 3 of recovery by August 2.