Summer school will be starting July 5 for the Fraser Cascade School District, and staff are hoping it will help students impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic from falling behind.
“They didn’t choose to be in the middle of a pandemic,” superintendent Balan Moorthy said during the school board meeting on March 30. “We need to provide as much support for them as we can,” including providing extra time to complete courses.
“This is just one of the layers to that.”
Summer school will be running from July 5 to July 30, with students participating in two morning sessions each week. Teachers will be available in the afternoon for additional support, and students will be expected to work independently during the rest of the school week.
Moorthy noted that traditional summer school saw many students sitting in a gymnasium or traditional classroom, and this year they are hoping for more of a hybrid program.
“They’re going to get some support online, and they’re going to get some support face to face,” he said.
The summer school will be geared towards three different groups of students: those in Grade 7 to Grade 9 who haven’t completed enough school work online and need to take English and Math to prepare them for the next grade level, students enrolled in online learning who need more time to finish their courses, and students doing in-class studies who need to finish courses or take additional ones.
“We’re talking about just encouraging our students to be able to complete their courses and move on to the next level,” Moorthy said, adding that he would hate to see students get most of the way through a course during the school year and not be able to get credit for that effort.
Summer school will be offered at Hope Secondary and Agassiz Elementary Secondary, although students in online courses will be allowed to continue distance learning.
Students will need to have a computer, a word processing system and access to the internet. Anyone who doesn’t have those items can connect with their principal to sign them out for the summer program.
Referrals for summer school will be made by teachers, with the approval of the principal, by May 1. Summer school will be free, and the number of teachers administering the program will be determined by the number of students who have signed up for it.
The school district is planning to see how continued online courses through the summer will dovetail with its new distance education program: Fraser Cascade Online.
“We know, as a result of the pandemic, almost every district is thinking about what other options are they going to offer for students who may want to choose online learning after this,” Moorthy said.
Moorthy noted the school district has been losing students to other districts with online learning programs, and hopes that having its own program will keep local students in the district and possibly attract students from other areas as well.
The program would allow the Fraser Cascade school district to manage its own online curriculum and courses, rather than through Western Canadian Learning Network which is has been using throughout the pandemic.
What Fraser Cascade Online will look like is still up in the air, as the school district is planning a meeting with staff to come up with big picture ideas for what the program will include.
Moorthy said the district is hoping to keep online learning going for at least the next few years, as although many students benefit from being in the classroom, some prefer online learning.