Chesterfield expecting upwards of 16,000 students in summer school

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CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Chesterfield County Public Schools (CCPS) officials are expecting more students in summer school than in years past.

In 2020, CCPS Superintendent Dr. Mervin Daugherty said there were approximately 13,000 students enrolled in summer school, which is much more than what the division had previously seen. However, given the experiences students have had this year due to learning environment changes to account for coronavirus concerns, educators said they may need extra enrichment.

“We recognize that many of our students will need additional support this summer and build their skills because of the pandemic and the experiences they’ve had this year,” Chief of Schools Dr. Lisa High said. “We will have tuition-free summer school to any CCPS student who wants it.”

This is only the second year that CCPS has opened up summer enrichment to all students, regardless of their goals in the classroom.

There are some exceptions to the tuition-free offerings, such as driver’s education, which is a paid course. Scholarships are available for those who need financial support.

For the first time ever, CCPS will be providing options for both in-person and remote learning.

“We will be offering both face-to-face and virtual summer school,” High said. “We are estimating it could be upwards of 16,000 to 20,000 students, depending on what the needs are for the summer.”

Families will be given the option to decide which learning environment they prefer. Once that selection is made, CCPS officials ask that students stick with whichever option they chose because of the length of the program — four weeks.

“Students will have a synchronous learning experience provided by teachers at selected sites,” High said of the face-to-face instruction option. “At the elementary school, we will focus on literacy and math, and then at secondary, it will be based on our course-based curriculum.”

In-person instruction will run from June 28 through July 22, Monday through Thursday.

Students in grades 6 through 12 who opt for remote learning will be enrolled in summer enrichment through CCPSOnline. But High said there will be designated days for those students to connect with their teachers.

Students in kindergarten through grade 5 who are engaged in virtual instruction will participate in synchronous learning with an emphasis on literacy and math, but it will be a scheduled day for students to follow with their teachers.

High said that students will continue to have access to the remote learning tools that they have utilized this year, such as Chromebooks.

For special education students enrolled in in-person summer enrichment, CCPS officials said that the division will work with students and staff to meet Individualized Education Program (IEP) requirements.

“We will ensure that we provide the appropriate instructional setting for both our special education and our English language learners,” High said. “Our special educations students will be provided with the accommodations per their IEP. We will also look at hiring specialists to support our teachers and students to make sure that all IEP goals are met.”

Those who qualify will also be able to take advantage of free meal distribution at CCPS this summer, though High said that the division is awaiting additional information and clarity as to whether that will include both breakfast and lunch for students.

As far as transportation for in-person learners goes, CCPS will be doing neighborhood bus stops this years to the designated summer school sites.

“In previous years, we’ve done hub stops, where families needed to get to their school and then they would be transported to the summer school site,” High said. “We feel like this [change] will provide equity for all of our students because there are times when they haven’t been able to attend because they weren’t able to get to their home school.”

CCPS officials said that they are encouraging more students to participate in summer enrichment than ever before as a tool for academic advancement.

“This is not a summer school because you did something wrong,” Daugherty said. “Summer school is more of an enrichment. We’re trying to get you ready to go to start the next school year. We really are trying to change what people think summer school is.”

Students looking to accelerate in the achievement of their curriculum requirements will be able to take courses this summer through CCPSOnline. This is also available for students who need to complete a course in order to graduate.

High said that tuition will cost $325 for a one-credit course and $165 for a half-credit course, but there are financial assistance options available.

CCPS will provide summer enrichment camps this summer, as well. According to the Summer Learning Lift presentation before the School Board at its Tuesday meeting, there will be various offerings for elementary, middle and high school students in Chesterfield County, including extended day enrichment camps, which will be administered at all Title I elementary summer school sites.

“Our students who participate in summer school in the morning will now have an opportunity to enjoy summer enrichment camps,” High said. “We’re looking at offering a camp for enrichment in the arts.”

Online registration for these camps will open on March 23. Registration for other programs will follow. But all students who wish to participate in summer enrichment must be registered by June 1 if they wish to have guaranteed transportation.

“We could look into having a paper enrollment process or even a counselor who can reach out to families that are identified as maybe having some connectivity issues, just to make sure that all of our students are able to access that registration equitably,” Clover Hill District representative Dot Heffron said.

There is a late registration period from June 17-18, but transportation may not be provided.

“Things will start to show up on our website and in communications starting this week,” High said.

CCPS’ summer enrichment will also be open to residents outside of the County. However, High said that they will be paying double tuition.

Daugherty said the total cost of summer school this year will likely be between $3.8 million and $4.8 million, but Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding will be used to help supplement.

“The bang for the buck is tremendous here” he said. “We are adding more transportation, we’re adding more facilities, we’re adding more activities.”

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