Summer learning underway as educators, health care providers prepare for upcoming school year

Alonzo Osche

Many students across the Piedmont Triad are well into summer school programs even as the new school year is quickly approaching. Districts around the area are reporting that they are seeing more students enrolled in summer learning this year and have expanded the types of learning being done as a result of lost opportunities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Summer has been very busy for us,” said Yadkin County Schools superintendent Todd Martin. Martin said students within the district had a quick turnaround, pivoting from the 2020-21 school year into the summer. “It’s a bigger deal this year,” he said. “What we’ve seen is having students in our classrooms, face-to-face with our teachers has made all the difference. It has helped them academically. It’s helped them mentally, socially, emotionally and I would say the same thing for our educators. Educators, teachers thrive on having students in the classroom.”Previously, summer school was held at three school campuses and largely focused on getting elementary school students up to speed, he said. This year, however, the district expanded programming onto eight campuses. Martin said there are about 700 students participating this summer. Programming is structured to feel more fun, more like a camp with hands-on activities, he said, and includes new initiatives to monitor mental health, too.“We have new reading, math and science materials. It has been refreshing for educators who are working this summer. They are doing a lot of hands-on. We’re doing a daily social, emotional learning component for our students,” he said. “We’ll continue that into the new school year.”Even with students in summer learning, the upcoming school year is only a few weeks away. While Yadkin County does not require staff or students to be vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus, Martin said vaccination rates in the community do help keep students in classrooms. Vaccination opportunities were given to students and staff last year. Martin said he knows some families are opting not to vaccinate their students. The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is approved for children over the age of 12. It requires two doses, three weeks apart. Two additional weeks are required to be considered fully vaccinated. Yadkin County Schools begins its new school year Aug. 16; Davidson County Schools begin the same day. Districts in Wilkes, Randolph, Forsyth and Guilford go back Aug. 23. Davie returns Aug. 24. “Certainly, I recommend for those teens, who are of age, to get vaccinated and see their pediatrician,” said Dr. Kimberly Montez, a pediatrician with Wake Forest Baptist Health.Montez said, in many cases, parents can also receive a vaccination while with their child as well.“The best way for us to stop this pandemic is to receive a COVID vaccination,” said Montez.As educators work to catch kids up this summer – and look ahead to a new school year – one that looks to be more of a traditional school year, educators want their families to know they’re still committed to keeping students healthy and learning.“We will be ready. We want students back, face-to-face, five days a week. That’s when we do what we do best,” Martin said. “We will bring students back in the middle of August, just as we have in years past. Our buses will run. Our teachers will teach and our students will learn.”Martin said Yadkin County Schools is still waiting for state guidance as to what kinds of COVID-19 protocols will be in place for the 2021-22 school year.

Many students across the Piedmont Triad are well into summer school programs even as the new school year is quickly approaching.

Districts around the area are reporting that they are seeing more students enrolled in summer learning this year and have expanded the types of learning being done as a result of lost opportunities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Summer has been very busy for us,” said Yadkin County Schools superintendent Todd Martin.

Martin said students within the district had a quick turnaround, pivoting from the 2020-21 school year into the summer.

“It’s a bigger deal this year,” he said. “What we’ve seen is having students in our classrooms, face-to-face with our teachers has made all the difference. It has helped them academically. It’s helped them mentally, socially, emotionally and I would say the same thing for our educators. Educators, teachers thrive on having students in the classroom.”

Previously, summer school was held at three school campuses and largely focused on getting elementary school students up to speed, he said. This year, however, the district expanded programming onto eight campuses.

Martin said there are about 700 students participating this summer. Programming is structured to feel more fun, more like a camp with hands-on activities, he said, and includes new initiatives to monitor mental health, too.

“We have new reading, math and science materials. It has been refreshing for educators who are working this summer. They are doing a lot of hands-on. We’re doing a daily social, emotional learning component for our students,” he said. “We’ll continue that into the new school year.”

Even with students in summer learning, the upcoming school year is only a few weeks away. While Yadkin County does not require staff or students to be vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus, Martin said vaccination rates in the community do help keep students in classrooms. Vaccination opportunities were given to students and staff last year. Martin said he knows some families are opting not to vaccinate their students.

The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is approved for children over the age of 12. It requires two doses, three weeks apart. Two additional weeks are required to be considered fully vaccinated.

Yadkin County Schools begins its new school year Aug. 16; Davidson County Schools begin the same day. Districts in Wilkes, Randolph, Forsyth and Guilford go back Aug. 23. Davie returns Aug. 24.

“Certainly, I recommend for those teens, who are of age, to get vaccinated and see their pediatrician,” said Dr. Kimberly Montez, a pediatrician with Wake Forest Baptist Health.

Montez said, in many cases, parents can also receive a vaccination while with their child as well.

“The best way for us to stop this pandemic is to receive a COVID vaccination,” said Montez.

As educators work to catch kids up this summer – and look ahead to a new school year – one that looks to be more of a traditional school year, educators want their families to know they’re still committed to keeping students healthy and learning.

“We will be ready. We want students back, face-to-face, five days a week. That’s when we do what we do best,” Martin said. “We will bring students back in the middle of August, just as we have in years past. Our buses will run. Our teachers will teach and our students will learn.”

Martin said Yadkin County Schools is still waiting for state guidance as to what kinds of COVID-19 protocols will be in place for the 2021-22 school year.

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