ark Hill is changing the way it will roll out summer school amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We value summer school very much in our district; however, we do have so many uncertainties that we made adjustments to that calendar,” said Superintendent Dr. Jeanette Cowherd during a videoconference Thursday.
Christina Courtney, Park Hill’s director of assessment, who also manages summer school, announced the district will offer two separate sessions this summer. Just as students have been learning ever since Kansas City Mayor Lucas issued the stay-at-home order, the high school summer school program will be a “virtual classroom” where students will study remotely. Virtual classes will be offered from June 2 through June 18 and June 19 through July 8.
Perhaps the district will be able to offer small face-to-face math courses, consisting of no more than 8 students, said Courtney.
The middle school and elementary school summer school programs would be held face-to-face at various school locations. Summer school will be offered at eight elementary sites and two middle school sites from July 1 through July 31. Ahead of the Fourth of July holiday, students will have off July 3.
The full-day summer school program will start as early as 7:30 a.m. for middle school and some elementary students and 8:30 a.m. for a large majority of elementary school students.
As time progresses, district officials will reassess whether the face-to-face option is still viable and in accordance with health and safety guidelines.
“If it is not an option, then on the enrollment form we will ask families if they are willing to participate in a virtual summer school in July in the absence of face-to-face,” said Courtney.
The district plans to send out online enrollment forms sometime this month.
Although summer school is completely optional, Courtney highly recommends summer school to everyone.
“I think at this point, every student would benefit from summer school,” said Courtney. “At this moment–with school being out for as long as it has–every Park Hill student would benefit from summer school this year.”
Summer school helps to alleviate the softening of skills, often dubbed the summer slide, that many students experience in math and reading over the summer. Many education experts anticipate students will also likely experience a “COVID-19 slide” from being out of the classroom for months and months.
Since Missouri students are heading back to school later in August this year following a law enacted last year by Gov. Mike Parson to help the Missouri’s tourism industry, students who attend summer school will still have 24 days before the start of the traditional school year.
With the 2020-2021 school year not starting until Aug. 24, students will have 10 days more of summer vacation than last year.