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Online summer school begins Monday

By Staff | Jun 11, 2020

With the school year completed, distance learning will continue Monday for a month of summer school, also online, for 15,000 kindergarten through eighth grade students.

Spokesperson Rob Spicker said what the district determined over the course of distance learning is that its average student engagement was 98 percent, leaving 2 percent of students “not engaged.” That 2 percent was a differing group of students every week.

“Ninety-eight percent is a good engagement,” Spicker said.

There were less than 100 students who never became involved in distance learning.

“We have a team going out and checking on them, knocking on doors and seeing what they may need,” Spicker said.

Now that they are aware, they want to see what happened and why, and want to make sure those students are ready to go in August if they still live in Lee County.

With the school year ending last week, they have 15,000 students signed up for summer school. In years past, with traditional summer school, a large number would have amounted to approximately 1,000 students.

“That would be in a school year that we had Title I students that we had funding for to keep in the school program,” Spicker said.

Total student enrollment is listed at 95,647, including pre-K.

The summer school, still distance learning, has been expanded to kindergarten through eighth grade students. School starts Monday, June 15, and runs through Thursday, July 16 and will use the same format as the school year.

Summer school will use iReady, platforms that students used during the school year on their ChromeBooks.

“We have high hopes that distance learning for many families worked,” Spicker said, adding that parents want to “keep their students involved now that they have a way to do that at home, (or) students felt they needed the extra work and we are happy to bring them along.”

High school students are also able to take summer school for the credit retrieval program, also through a virtual platform, Edgenuity.

With summer school continuing online, students are able to keep their ChromeBooks through the summer. Those students who are moving to sixth grade, from fifth grade, or from eighth grade to ninth grade have to return their ChromeBooks once summer school is completed.

“Those ChromeBooks are assigned to those schools and will be used for those schools again,” Spicker explained, adding that the other students can keep the ChromeBooks through the summer.

Spicker said students received traditional grading through distance learning. He said they understood for many families that this has been tough, and became a raised burden during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It may have been an extra struggle and school work was not always a highest priority,” Spicker said.

With that said, grades mattered and counted, but teachers were lenient, focusing more on school work being completed, rather than being completed on time. He said teachers were sympathetic to the stresses of the pandemic and allowed extra grace time on grading periods.

Spicker said he looked at the number of students retained for elementary schools and it was significantly lower than the year before. He said for the most part students completed their work for the grade level and are moving on to the next grade.

Spicker said by the end of third quarter, the core requirements for subjects are completed. He said the fourth quarter is dominated by state mandated tests that did not happen this year.

“Most students had already met the standard of the grade by the time of distance learning,” Spicker said.

The surveys the district conducted revealed that parents felt the level of work they were getting through distance learning was appropriate and productive with an overall positive feeling about distance learning.

For every handful of parents that found it easy, there were a handful of families that had difficulty, Spicker said, adding the district helped those parents through the unusual time.

Another interesting reveal of the survey, which the district will implement in the fall if distance learning is continued, is the use of Zoom.

“Our families wanted more content lessons when they had facetime with teachers,” Spicker said of Zoom.

When utilizing Zoom during distance learning, teachers interacted with students, as well as students communicating with their classmates. Although parents said it was great and the kids enjoyed the interaction, they said they would rather have it content driven, rather than social.

“Rather than making it social, interactive and fun, parents said they wanted to make it a learning opportunity,” Spicker said.