Schools offering expanded summer school opportunities to combat pandemic learning loss

Educators say now is the time parents should evaluate their options

ROANOKE, Va. – Nothing beats being in a classroom.

After a year of school closings and distance learning, local educators said they’ve seen a significant learning loss for students both academically and from a social-emotional standpoint.

“Teachers are trained to work with students in person,” said Greg Johnston, the executive director of academics for Roanoke City Public Schools. “That’s what we know how to do best.”

He and others say that now is the time parents should evaluate and consider their options.

“Our school year was cut short in a variety of ways between in-person, virtual or a combination of both,” he added. “This is an opportunity for students to come back five days a week and work on that transition.”

In Roanoke schools alone, more than 3,000 students will hit the books this summer. Johnston said the negative impacts are showing up most in reading and math.

“If you’re comfortable and your student wants to attend, let them come. We’re referring to them as camps because we are trying to make it fun,” said Martinsville assistant superintendent of instruction Angilee Downing. “After all of this year, we just don’t need to come in and try and do the same old thing.”

Martinsville and several other districts, like Radford Public Schools, also said enrollment numbers are at an all-time high for the summer session.

“In a normal year, we see maybe a couple seniors who really need support at the end of the school year in order to graduate, this year we saw about 20,” explained Radford Superintendent Rob Graham.

Although it’s rare and unfavorable, in extreme cases, there’s also the option of holding kids back a grade.

“Retention actually has a negative impact on student learning. You get into that social piece as well,” Downing says. “What we are looking at is accelerating students. We’re looking forward instead of holding back.”

With the expanded opportunities offered this summer, educators like these three suggest, give that a go first.

For more information about Roanoke City Schools summer plans, click here; for Martinsville, click here; and for Radford, click here.

About the Author

Kortney joined the 10 News team as a Lynchburg Bureau Reporter in May 2021.

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