Many Vermont school districts offering summer enrichment
COLCHESTER, Vt. (WCAX) - Summer school is in full swing in districts across Vermont. Every district’s program is different but all exist to help students stay on track so after two years of COVID’s impact on academics and social and emotional learning.
About 40 elementary-aged students are headed into Union Memorial School in Colchester for a day of summer learning. The district’s summer program expanded this year to meet an increased need for a summer boost due to the impacts of the pandemic.
“Both for socialization and social-emotional learning for students, as well as kind of helping with the summer slide that happens for academics, and we have seen some students’ academics slide a little bit with COVID,” said Carrie Lutz, the Colchester School District’s director of support services.
Elementary-age students are chosen for summer learning based on their risk of academic sliding. The newly created middle school program is open to any student. Lutz says the more interaction over the summer, both academic and social, the better. “When we were hybrid or remote, there was definitely a lack of some of that and so anything that we can do to catch up. But in any given year, we would have students who would need that exposure during the summer,” Lutz said.
The Windsor Southeast Supervisory Union also expanded its summer programming. The Summer Academy was created last year for students falling in the bottom 30th percentile in academic achievement -- around 110 students. This year, it’s expanded to the bottom 35th percentile -- around 130 students. They had planned to do this pre-COVID, but pandemic relief funding allowed them to pursue it.
“Changing the focus to include all students who are at risk. Doesn’t matter what their label happens to be, depending on identification with whatever school process you’re using, That has, I think, in a way opened up opportunities that a large chunk of students we’ve missed every year,” said Katie Ahern, the district’s director of student support services. She says some students experienced pandemic-related learning loss, but not the whole system and that summer school is an opportunity for social and emotional enrichment, too. “We disguise learning as fun there. It is still summer.”
Social and emotional learning is embedded in Vermont schooling but is emphasized as another pandemic year closes. “If we don’t get the kids reoriented towards working with their peers and being in a school environment, trying to push academics on them doesn’t really work,” said Caledonia Central School District Superintendent Mark Tucker. He says their summer program is for any student who wants to participate and has around 300 students enrolled. Social and emotional learning is also a priority. “We had kids in school, we didn’t have any remote or hybrid this year. But we had a lot of kids in and out of school because of COVID and staff in and out of school.”
All three school officials agree that it’s nice to see students enjoying the sun while learning and are optimistic going into this next school year.
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