North Alabama school districts offer summer classes to close coronavirus learning gap

Experts say kids lost around a year of school because of the pandemic.

Posted: Apr 21, 2021 5:34 PM
Updated: Apr 21, 2021 6:45 PM

With just over a month of class left for most North Alabama school districts, more and more are sharing their plans on how they plan to close the coronavirus learning gap this summer.

It is an issue every school in the nation is currently facing. WAAY 31 has spoken to experts in the past few weeks who have said kids essentially lost a year of school! While school districts have a plan, some parents are concerned their kids will be too burned out to benefit.

"Our child's education is very important to us," Laurie McFalls said.

Her son, Jack, is about to wrap up second grade next month. She's a bit worried about third grade after an unusual start to the school year.

"I do have some concerns about what he's going to take with him into the next grade, because she had to spend so much time covering the grade he was supposed to be learning," McFalls said.

School districts have similar concerns.

"It comes from students not being in school," Director of Elementary Instruction at Huntsville City Schools Dr. Monte Linebarger said. "We can't expect our children to teach themselves."

Huntsville City, Madison City and Madison County schools are all offering classes over the summer. Students would go to class four to five days a week depending on their grade level.

"We're going to do our best to not make it drill and work and those kinds of things, because we do understand that folks are weary," Madison City School Superintendent Dr. Ed Nichols said.

While some worry that it's too much, others say their kids can't wait to go back.

"I don't think our boys and girls will be burned out at all. Honestly, they've missed too much instruction. Just like my son, he's ready to get out of the house," Dr. Linebarger said.

Districts are also offering other services to make summer learning more possible for families with working parents.

"Free breakfast, free lunch, free transportation. Hopefully, that's going to be a selling point to allow their boys and girls to come back to school," Dr. Linebarger said.

School districts say they hope parents opt into the summer classes to make sure they can close the learning gap.

"In the long range, it's going to benefit to their kids," Dr. Nichols said.

"I'm pleading to parents! Please let your boys and girls come and experience the summer learning camp, so we can provide laser-instruction to them, so they can be ready for school next year," Dr. Linebarger said.

Madison City Schools says they've notified the parents of about 800 students about the summer classes. So far, around 300 students are enrolled. Madison County Schools expects about 3,400 students to participate in their summer program.

The classes for all three districts will start in June and last around a month. There will also be a virtual option and other resources available to students and parents.

In addition to summer classes, Huntsville and Madison City schools will offer after-school tutoring for their students next fall.

McFalls says she's grateful the district is thinking about how to help students who may feel behind when the next school year begins.

"It's really good to know that they're not going to pretend like it's all over, and that all the obstacles that have popped up in this past year are now just magically gone away. It's good to know that the school district is committed to supporting these kids until they don't need it anymore," McFalls said.

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