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Akron Public Schools Plans '3rd Semester' Summer Classes For Learning Loss

Summer classes will be a part of Akron Public Schools' plan to address pandemic-related learning loss. [Akron Public Schools]
Akron Public Schools

Akron Public Schools will offer summer classes as part of its approach in dealing with pandemic-related learning loss. The district submitted its plan on the eve of the April 1 deadline given by Gov. Mike DeWine to all Ohio school districts.

The summer programming will be part of Akron’s “third semester,” according to Mary Outley-Kelly, executive director of elementary education, who adds that providing summer classes is nothing new for the district. 

However, after roughly one year of all students being fully remote, the district’s curriculum specialists have identified grade-specific areas of reading and math that the students need “more time with” this summer, Outley-Kelly said.  And at the classroom level, teachers will determine who has the greatest need to attend summer classes.

“They are the experts and they know what their students need,” she said. “So they've always had the charge to identify the students that would benefit the most, and that's who the program is offered to first.”

For elementary school students, the district will offer three sessions of “mystery camps” in partnership with organizations including the Akron Art Museum and the Cleveland Museum of Art. During the mystery camps, students will answer a central question like “What is water?” while also being taught core subjects. 

“We wanted to make sure that what we offered during the summer was exciting, yet educational, that was hands-on and engaging,” said Outley-Kelly. “So, we're embedding the learning in fun. We're sneaking it in, you know, so again, because we want them to be there and to tell a student, ‘I want you to go to school for six more weeks in the summer,’ that’s not fun for them.”

Middle school students will be offered summer classes to continue with their core learning in the areas of reading and math.

“This is an extended learning opportunity and the students will have their own personalized pathway to engage in that kind of individual diagnostic assessment of where the child is at academically,” Outley-Kelly said.

Summer school will be offered to high school students who are not on track to graduate and for some rising seniors in the class of 2022.

“It’s for our credit recovery courses for students who are lacking the credits to graduate. We want to give them a chance to recover credits during this program,” Outley-Kelly said. “It’s a 5-week program, 4 hours per day. And it’ll be Monday through Thursday.”

The district’s learning loss plan also includes the 2022-2023 and 2023-2024 school years, implying that dealing will the impacts of the pandemic on academic learning will be an ongoing effort. 

“We will be providing assessments to the students during April and May. That’ll give us a better understanding of where they are performing academically, our team will come together and devise a plan on how we will address that for the upcoming school year,” Outley-Kelly explained.

After a year of remote learning, she emphasized the district’s gratitude to students, staff and parents for working as hard as they did during the pandemic.

“We appreciate how our staff and our parents and students rallied during this very unexpected, unprecedented time.” 

Jenny Hamel is the host of the “Sound of Ideas.”