Summer school programs in Kern County expect a higher turnout due to learning loss during a pandemic

Posted at 9:47 AM, Mar 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-23 12:47:23-04

This summer more Kern County kids may be hitting the books than ever before. local school districts are expecting a higher summer school turnout because of learning loss during the pandemic. It’s going to take place in person, but it may look different than what kids are used to.

“Summer schools that are not enrichment programs, more like a fifth quarter or a fourth trimester,” Dr. Mary C. Barlow, the Kern County Superintendent of Schools said.

Panama Buena-Vista Union School District’s Director of Extended Learning Pam Somes says they’ve never had all 24 distinct school sites host summer school before--just regional schools. but when there’s learning loss during a pandemic they’ll have 2 teachers per grade on board at each site. Across K-8th grades at 24 school sites, that’s about 432 teachers.

“We wanted to make sure that there was equal opportunity for our students,” Somes said.

From June 4 through July 8 for four hours, four days a week, they’ll run a camp steam program. These small-group sessions of science, engineering, arts and mathematics. There will be ‘out of this world’ themes incorporated throughout all subjects every week.

“There will be space heroes, star wars and we’re also going to look at the Mars Rover,” Somes said. “We’re going to integrate that within reading and math, so the kids are learning at a high interest level, so there’s high engagement, but at the same time, we’re filling those learning gaps that may have occurred in this past year.”

Somes said that the lessons are data-driven, targeted to a student’s individual need and will have social and emotional learning elements weaved in.

“It’s called a MTSS, a multi-tiered system. Every day the students will get a social emotional learning goal and lesson they’ll learn,” Somes said. “So it’s integrated in. It’s just a part of what we do.”

The Bakersfield City School District’s Summer Learning Academies for first to eighth graders: will include a STEAM program, a balanced literacy approach, art programs for fifth graders, a music program for fourth graders and virtual parent centers, according to BCSD’s Director of Extended Learning Programs, Deanna Clarke.

Said centers will feature Zumba and classes on other topics such as strengthening positive behaviors, technology, social and emotional learning, tools for self-improvement, and how to support your child academically.

BCSD will have two, three week learning sessions in June and July, a virtual option, and an independent study guidebook. As a finale to the academies, BCSD will host a Virtual Family Science Night.

“We’re running our dual-immersion programs, our agricultural academies at McKinley School, we’re also running our migrant education program, just lots of opportunities for students to get involved. In addition we’ll have our parent centers open virtually,” Clarke said.

In the afternoons, BCSD will run virtual small-group intervention time, which Clarke said is in response to learning loss during the pandemic.

“We’re actually hiring this year an intervention specialist,” Clarke said. “Their focus will be on assessing students to see where they left off last year, where they are right now, and really tailoring that specific intervention to help them.”

On board this summer, BCSD will also have social and emotional support staff like psychologists, social workers, and behavior and youth intervention specialists.

“That’s a big part of this, is just giving students that time to come back in, to do school and to feel good about it and feel engaged in it and having that relationship, to let them know we care about you and are glad you’re here,” Clarke said.

So far, BCSD has had close to 1500 students sign up. Their goal is to have 5000 students come to each session. What was once by invitation only, she says is now open to all students to apply. The deadline to register students for BCSD’s free summer program is May 3.

At their last board meeting, the Kern High School district also announced their summer school plans to hold in-person summer school with the option of distanced summer learning.