ROCHESTER, N.Y. — As a school year marked by unprecedented changes due to COVID-19 winds down, many local schools are ramping up summer programs designed to keep students on track. All of that extra learning will also include some fun.
Dr. Lesli Myers-Small, superintendent of Rochester city schools, made sure that was known during her opening remarks at a Wednesday news conference.
"We are here to say, ‘hey learning, we have some unfinished business,’" Myers-Small said.
The end of a very different school year brings about the start of a very different slate of summer school programs in Rochester, ones designed to help students to tackle things they weren’t able to learn during the pandemic.
"It really is about re-engaging," the superintendent said. "Many of us have been behind closed doors, sequestered, and we've been working through our electronic devices. These partnerships give us an opportunity to literally meet students where they are."
The expanded Rochester City School District summer learning programs will include partnerships with not only schools, but museums, libraries, summer camps, local colleges, sports and arts programs and other activities.
"It's really about making sure that we let our young people know that we care," Myers-Small said. "And this is a way that we can absolutely unequivocally do that."
It’s something many districts are doing this summer. About 100 students usually take part in summer learning programs in Greece Central Schools. This year they expect as many as 1,000.
"We are concerned about what our students were or were not able to do during this past school year, during the pandemic," said Suzanne Pettifer, Greece Central School District’s executive director of curriculum and instruction. "I think it's really important for us to offer this opportunity to all of our students. It doesn't just meet the academic need but it also meets that social emotional needs."
Expanded summer programs in Greece will include transportation and meals for students, who will have the option of attending in-person or virtually, an approach that might help kids used to learning at home to transition back to an in-person environment.
"There's a lot of focus on engagement and this year was tough," said Todd Smith, GCSD executive director of Curriculum and Instruction. "Students didn't get to interact the same way that they used to, when they're missing those friendships and partnerships and just being able to get out and do things."
Meanwhile, the city schools have even adopted a superhero theme, using super powers, to help keep kids on the right track.
"Learning, we have some unfinished business," Myers-Small said. "And we plan to start taking care of that this summer."