Districts plans summer offerings to counteract a disrupted year

Schools will offer both in person and virtual instruction options to students.

School will soon be out, and although Alice Cooper would have you believe it’s out for summer, Cherry Hill schools will remain open from July through August so students can participate in summer remediation and acceleration programs.

Dr. Farrah Mahan, assistant superintendent, presented the district’s plans for summer 2021 at the May 25 board of education meeting. Under the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) was established to provide funding to states and districts to address disruptions in education caused by COVID. 

The district’s ESSER II funds must be allocated to three specific areas: learning loss, preparing for reopening and upgrades or projects to improve air quality. Mahan’s presentation focused on learning loss and mental health.

Seventy-five percent of the district’s ESSER II learning allocation funds must go toward academic enrichment for students. Of that 75 percent, 75 percent must be used on STEM related activities and experiences, while 25 percent can be put toward activities and experiences related to literacy and the arts.

The remaining 25 percent of the ESSER II funds must go toward supporting the learning ecosystem from pre-K through grade 12 instruction. According to Mahan, the learning ecosystem funds may be spent on programs that focus on building a growth mindset in students, professional learning for educators and engagement with parents and caregivers.

The district also has ESSER II funds that must be allocated to mental health. While the district can choose how to spend the funding, at least 80 percent is for mental-health support and services and at least 10 percent for professional development for educators.

The district’s curriculum and instruction office is currently finalizing the district’s summer plans. As of now, the district plans to offer both in person and virtual instruction options for students from Tuesday, July 6 through Thursday, Aug. 12. Specific times and program dates have yet to be announced.

At the high-school level, the district will target students in need of credit recovery who did not meet with success in certain courses. Additionally, tutoring options — both in small groups and one on one — will also be offered. The district is also eyeing programming to help students in ninth and 10th grades transition to high school. Summer acceleration courses are also planned  for summer 2021.

Similar remediation and acceleration programs will be offered at the middle- and elementary- school levels. 

The district’s We Return to Learn committee is currently working on the portion of the district’s website that will formally outline the summer support programming.

At the June 8 board of education meeting, the district will share information on the structure of the 2021-2022 school year. The plan is to have students in school five days a week, with a full day of instruction, including breakfast and lunch.

The district recently went back to a five day instructional model to finish out the school year. On  May 17, Cherry Hill schools went from a four-day, in person hybrid model to a five-day, in person hybrid model. 

“We are excited to have a few more weeks of Mondays,” Mahan said.