CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The AccelerateED task force has published a draft of the policies they would like to see adopted for summer learning. If successful, the recommendations will most likely remain in effect for the start of the fall school year.
At the AccelerateED meeting on Thursday, Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman told task force members she asked the resources arm of AccelerateSC for $115 million of CARES Act money for summer learning. So far, they have allocated just $13 million. They said they wanted more details about how summer learning would be accomplished and, more importantly, how many students would be participating.
“I am confident that if I can give them some better information and the confidence that we can make this happen this summer they are going to do everything they can to up that amount,” Spearman said.
The recommendations for achieving summer learning dip into every aspect of the education system. One of the more expensive recommendations is for a full-time nurse at every school. Of the schools that do not already have a full-time nurse, 75 have a part-nurse and 123 have no nurse at all. Spearman estimates each nurse would cost the school district $62,000.
While it is recommended that the Education Department prepares online materials for parents to be able to provide their kids with summer learning outside of school, the task force is not recommending summer school be conducted online. They want face to face learning, especially for elementary school children.
“They are having a harder time adjusting to it than older kids, which we probably could have anticipated,” said Patrick Kelly, Coordinator of Professional Learning for Richland School District Two.
Other recommendations include adding COVID-19 screening questions to summer registration packets and class sizes cutdown with a student to teacher ratio of 12-16 to 1.
“We all have the same two goals in mind,” Spearman said. “Protect our children and our faculty is our number one goal and number two is to get our schools opened and back to as normal as possible.”
All meals are expected to be eaten in classrooms. There will be designated entrances and exits with one-way travel in hallways. And forget about sharing – nothing will be shared without being sanitized first.
Going forward, school districts are encouraged to create a reopening team to address any issues that crop up and to act as a central communication hub for parents, students and employees.
They also recommend developing a team of administrators, teachers and counselors for social emotional support and to monitor student success. They want students to be evaluated as they come back to school so they can identify those who may need additional help.
From the state, the task force is recommending waiving certain testing, seat and credit requirements and other benchmarks to allow districts flexibility in handling individual situations.
The task force says there are four groups of students that should take priority. Those include kindergarten through third grade, transitional grades 5 and 8, migrant or homeless students, and those with an Individualized Education Program (IEP).
The recommendations are not finalized and AccelerateED is looking for public comment. You can see the full draft of the recommendations here.