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What summer school might look like for districts across western New York

Posted at 3:05 PM, Apr 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-27 20:06:39-04

NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WKBW) — School districts across western New York are now considering summer school in response to COVID-19 school closures since mid March.

“We have to do this. Either digitally, or physically, but it’s going to happen one way or the other,” Jamestown City School District Superintendent Bret Apthorpe said.

Apthorpe is planning summer instruction for nearly all Jamestown students.

“We’re repurposing what would have been a 600 kid kindergarten through fourth grade, eight-week program, into a three-week experience for kids in kindergarten through eighth grade,” he explained.

The plan in Jamestown is to offer the three-week program in August. Apthorpe said kindergarten through eighth grade students will take math, literacy, and social/emotional support. High school students who received an incomplete will also be eligible for instruction.

“Most schools are going to a pass, fail, or incomplete grading system. So, we need to have an opportunity for those kids with an incomplete to complete their work,” said Apthorpe.

If Jamestown elects to offer in school instruction, Apthorpe said they are considering how to maintain safe social distancing practices. They would also be implementing hygiene breaks, and mandating students bring their own water bottles from home.

Erie 1 BOCES declined to comment saying it was too premature to speculate what summer school might look like without more facts.

“We’re just putting the legs to it right now,” said Niagara Falls City School District Superintendent, Mark Laurrie.

Laurrie said his district is also considering a form of unconventional summer school in response to the COVID-19 closure. While it is still in the early planning stages, Laurrie said it will likely consist of algebra and science for eighth graders via distance learning.

“We accelerated the curriculum for all kids in that grade, and we can’t let them enter high school without more reinforcement or missing school for those 13 weeks.”

The roughly six-week program for eighth graders would begin after the Fourth of July and run through early August. Students would be required to watch a pre-recorded, hour-long lesson everyday from home.

So far, Laurrie said summer school would be exclusive to eighth graders. There aren’t any plans to offer instruction at other grade levels because of budgeting constraints.

Both districts said the programs would be paid for through grant funding. Teachers, who work under contract from September 1 to June 30, would opt to participate and be paid for their work.

Laurrie said he’s still waiting for direction from the state about the rest of this school year before making a final decision on summer instruction.