BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — There are just couple of weeks left of what has been a daunting and historic school year, but school districts across the region are ready to launch enhanced summer school programs designed to allow students to catch up from remote learning loss along with some added extras.
School leaders are anticipating higher summer school enrollment.
Three districts are among many across Western New York now preparing for summer school, Niagara Falls City School District in Niagara Falls, Buffalo Public School District and Sweet Home Central School District in Amherst.
Summer school is notoriously known for allowing students to retake a course they failed or prevent them from repeating a grade level. But after months of remote and hybrid learning, this summer school season provides bigger challenges.
“If we think or believe that we are going to catch up from a 15 to 18 month pandemic, in the course of a 25 day summer school — we're mistaken,” remarked Mark Laurrie, superintendent, Niagara Falls City Schools.
There are more than 6,000 students in the niagara falls city school district.Superintendent Laurrie says he's expecting "solid enrollment."
Already 700 elementary students and 350 middle school students are signed up.
“It’s really critical that the kids go,” replied Laurrie.
Laurrie says in his district, 7th through 12th grade will hit the ground running, starting summer school on June 28.
He says high school students will have the ability to learn virtually and then come to school for office hours with their teachers.
“So it's somewhat familiar to a flipped classroom — lessons will be put forth — students will turn work in and on a designated day they will meet individually or in a small group with their teacher,” Laurrie explained.
Younger Falls city school students will begin summer school after July 4th, attending in-person learning.
The Buffalo School District is expanding its school program for students in Pre-k-through 12.
“Given this school year — we really have to go big with summer school,” explained Larry Scott, school board member.
Buffalo students were the last in the region to go back to full, five-day week, in-school learning and still about 40-percent of families decided to remain remote.
City board member Scott says the district is rolling out a summer school program that will focus on three areas:
- Academic support/Enrichment
- Social/Emotional wellness
- Health & Wellness
“Obviously academics are a priority, but we know with the social isolation — lack of activity that we also need to prioritize that social emotional wellness,” Scott noted.
And from urban to suburban school districts, the pandemic created the same learning challenges for students from many social backgrounds.
“We’re going to have summer school at every level for every kind of student,” remarked Tony Day, superintendent, Sweet Home Central School District.
But Day say he won't have exact summer school enrollment numbers until later this month.
“We’re going to invite a lot of kids to try get as many here as we can,” Day said.
Superintendent Day say summer school will provide a chance to close reading and math gaps, help students recover course credits and keep students on track to graduate.
But when I asked Day if summer school is enough time for students to catch up, he says it depends on the individual student.
“The goal is to really provide the support kids need over whatever period of time they need to get back where they need to be,” Day replied.
Day says sadly COVID isolated students from building a “sense of community” that strengthens schools.
“It starts with the foundation of the community and you know, forging community has been pretty tough this past year,” responded Day.
Summer school will not be just course work. The city Falls schools will offer P-Tech camp, STEM learning and recreation, including rowing. Buffalo Schools will sprinkle in two art programs and feature a number of Say Yes camps.
“Our kids just need more opportunities to reengage — get together play, sing, dance to have fun just enjoy each other,” declared Scott.
Parents and school families can go to the following these web pages for each of the districts for more information: