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Lynchburg-area school divisions look at increasing summer school options
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Lynchburg-area school divisions look at increasing summer school options

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School divisions in the Lynchburg area are exploring extended summer school opportunities for students who might be falling behind.

With COVID-19 mitigation strategies in place, schools in the Lynchburg area have not been able to offer full-time in-person instruction to many students this school year. In a news conference earlier this month, Gov. Ralph Northam encouraged school divisions to offer learning options through the summer to support students who have fallen behind. Though Northam did not require school divisions to offer summer school or require year-round school, he strongly encouraged them to explore what options they could offer for students who need it most.

Lynchburg City Schools Deputy Superintendent Amy Pugh said administrators in the division still are in the planning stages regarding summer school opportunities, but the division hopes to address learning loss through both in-person and virtual summer school options.

At the Lynchburg City School Board work session Tuesday, Pugh said the division is exploring a program for elementary schoolers through the YMCA, as well as middle and high school credit recovery programs.

Pugh said LCS also is exploring recovery options for seniors that will happen prior to the summer so members of the Class of 2021 will be able to graduate. Pugh said the division hopes to have information to parents regarding summer school opportunities around the end of March so families have time to plan.

Bedford County Public Schools also is planning for extended summer school opportunities. Typically, the division offers half-day summer school for three weeks in the summer, according to BCPS Chief Learning Officer Karen Woodford.

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In a presentation Thursday at the Bedford County School Board meeting, division staff updated the board on preliminary plans for summer school.

Gennifer Miller, director of childhood learning for the division, said officials hope to offer full-day summer school, Mondays through Thursdays from June 7 to July 15 for students who are struggling most this year.

Tony Francis, director of adolescent learning, said the division hopes to offer credit recovery for students in grades eight through 12 who earned a D or F in a credited course.

Nelson County Public Schools Superintendent Martha Eagle and Campbell County Public Schools Assistant Superintendent Clayton Stanley said their respective school divisions are discussing and planning summer school and other academic recovery opportunities.

Rob Arnold, Amherst County Public Schools superintendent, said division officials are already planning to extend summer school opportunities for students. In the past, he said, elementary students attended school four half-days per week during the summer session. This summer, he said, the division is planning to offer five full days per week of summer school for those grades.

For secondary students, like in the past, summer school will be focused on offering credit recovery. Arnold said families can expect more information about summer school options within the next month.

As school officials explore summer school options across all divisions, staffing summer programs remains a chief concern. As one possible solution, Francis said BCPS is looking at offering flexible summer schedules and pay increases for teachers who are willing to teach over the summer.

“We want to give our teachers a break as much as possible,” said Pugh, of LCS, “but we also know that there are some teachers that are willing to do the work if asked. We’ll just have to balance that sacred down time with supporting our students’ needs.”

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