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Western Mass. school districts gear up for summer school with dwindling COVID cases

Western Mass. school districts gear up for summer school with dwindling COVID cases
Published: Jun. 17, 2022 at 5:19 PM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - Students are in the home stretch with summer break around the corner, but for many students, those summer break plans can include summer school.

“We’re excited to be back pre-pandemic and looks like we have a full roster of kids that will be participating,” said West Springfield Public School Superintendent Tim Connor.

Connor said they are back to in-person learning, with many students preparing to continue into the summer months. That includes 140 students at the high school level.

“A lot of group work a, lot of project-based learning, a lot of dynamic activity so the kids are out and about moving, and very little actual classroom work. We try to embed content into the work that they were doing in their groups in their projects, etc.,” said West Springfield Assistant Superintendent Dr. Vito Perrone.

School officials shared with Western Mass News that in the district, there is a heavy focus on literacy, especially for younger students, along with behavior regulation coming off of the pandemic.

“We have a lot of routines and they’re developmentally appropriate and so with the pandemic and being out of school, we have a cohort of students that we’re still working with to get those behaviors in line, so that they can be successful,” Connor noted.

Perrone added, “Sitting on my bed, learning in my PJs on a Zoom, as opposed to being in face-to-face and interacting with individuals, it’s different.”

Western Mass News also checked in with Springfield Public Schools. Superintendent Daniel Warwick told us they are gearing up for summer school’s kickoff on July 5.

“We used to have target grades, you know, 3, 5, 9 that we targeted for summer school. Now, we’re doing summer school for every grade to deal with the learning loss caused by the pandemic,” Warwick explained.

Warwick said they are going to have the largest summer school they have ever had. He said the highest attendance usually falls on high school students and most students attending focus on mathematics.

“When kids were learning virtually, at home, there was some significant learning loss that went on, so a lot of kids now need more catch up. They need more interventions, so that we’re working hard to make sure we fulfill that need,” Warwick noted.

However, school officials told us that like the normal academic year, educating students needs support outside of the classroom as well.

“We really need the parents to support us in sending their kids to the summer school, so we can make up for that learning loss, so they’ll be in good shape when they start next year,” Warwick said.

Both school districts wrap up the year on June 21. School leaders told us that their summer school programs will continue to follow the appropriate COVID-19 guidelines. While many of West Springfield’s summer school programs may be full, we’re told there’s still room for Springfield students. The Springfield program will go on until August 3 and will run Monday-Thursday 8 a.m.-1:15 p.m.