EASTON — Talbot County Public Schools is planning to supplement learning loss suffered by some students during the COVID-19 pandemic with summer learning opportunities at schools across the district this summer.
Dr. Helga Einhorn, assistant superintendent for instruction, said the summer school programs will focus on social and emotional skills and seek to close academic gaps that may have formed as a result of learning interruptions during the past year.
For elementary students, there will be an element of social and emotional learning, arts and other programs, while middle schoolers will be able to take math, coding, foreign language and music courses, and join book clubs.
High school students will be given the opportunity to recover needed credits, get career and technology training, and take enrichment courses.
The programs are being developed in response to student needs that the district has been working to identify amid a turbulent year that left classrooms across the county forced to close on-and-off for several months starting in March 2020.
While some students in the district did well learning remotely while schools were closed, many struggled with online schooling due to internet connectivity issues, family troubles, a lack of in-person social interaction and a host of other variables.
The full impact of those struggles and their solutions will undoubtedly take more than a summer to uncover in most cases, but the programs that will be offered by TCPS this summer seek to start the recovery process.
The programs will be free to participating families, and will be operated from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. beginning on June 21 through Aug. 12 with transportation, breakfast and lunch provided for students.
Einhorn said the first six weeks of the eight-week programs will be dedicated to academics. The last two weeks likely will serve as time for students who are moving from elementary to middle school or middle to high school to get oriented to their new schools.
The district is focusing on providing students “authentic learning experiences ... that give them meaningful opportunities to practice the skills that are most essential for when they return in the fall,” Einhorn said, pointing out that some students have been in a distance learning model for an entire year and might benefit from a transitional in-person summer learning program.
The programming also will be flexible so that parents can choose the duration for which they want their child to participate.
In order to ensure that the programs are available to students who would benefit most from them, there will be a priority registration system that makes slot available to those students first and then to students who might need or want to only take advantage of some parts of the programs.
Superintendent Dr. Kelly Griffith called the programs “a great way to extend” learning for students. Griffith shied away from refering to the programs as a way for students to “catch up.”
“Quite frankly,” Griffith said, “I think a lot of our kids have learned a lot this year — a lot more than we ever expected to be honest with you. But I think [summer learning] is a way to close some of those gaps.”