Local schools are preparing for an influx of summer students hoping to make up for lost time caused by the pandemic.

Jeanne Barker, Lenoir City director of schools, recently presented information to Lenoir City Board of Education on Vacation Academy, the system’s summer school program.

“We are busy planning for the summer,” Barker said. “Currently, we have about 210 students in grades one through eight that are ready to come spend their summer with us. We have teachers that are excited and preparing for providing students a hands-on learning opportunity this summer to get some of that face-to-face time that perhaps they’ve missed due to quarantines, illnesses, all of those things that we have battled this year.”

Barker said summer programs offer a catch-up opportunity.

For rising first- through fifth-graders, summer school will last six weeks. For rising sixth- through eighth-graders, schooling will take four weeks, Barker said. High school programming will be needs-based.

“For the high school program, that’s going to be done by course,” she said. “For example, there are going to be ACT prep courses and they’re going to be split up for each subject like English language arts, one for math, one for sciences, and so those will be determined by the needs of the students for those curricular areas. They will vary.”

Students will attend Monday-Friday as they would during the regular school year.

Barker said postcards were sent reminding students of summer schooling and telling them, “Your seat is saved, and we’re excited to see you.”

In addition to learning intervention, students will get opportunities to participate in field trips and extracurricular activities.

“We’re going to be doing some career exploration with some of our students,” Barker said. “Our culinary arts teacher is going to come over and do some culinary arts activities. Our fine arts teachers are coming over to do some things. We have some STEM opportunities that are going to be very project-based opportunities for our students. We’re very excited about the full gambit of both a four-week and a six-week opportunity for our students. The high school is going to also be offering some targeted classes for high school students, some ACT prep classes and some credit recovery, as well as credit advancement opportunities. ... We’re trying to be all things to all students as we can.”

County schools prep for summer

Loudon County Schools will offer programming similar to Lenoir City.

Michael Garren, Loudon County director of schools, said the county will use the four-week program for elementary schools and six weeks for middle schools.

“We’re going to have a total of about 52 teachers working in the summer camps, about 440 students in the elementary camps are expected to come, and about 200 middle school students are expected to come,” he said. “We’ll be running buses for those that need transportation, and we’ll be rotating nurses and counselors around through the schools during that time.”

Garren said the high school will operate the usual credit recovery and course retake program for four weeks. He expects 40-50 high-schoolers to participate.

Programs at elementary and middle schools are state funded to “address potential learning loss from the closure last spring,” he said.

Students will be on campus 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Friday, Garren said. While school programming will only last until 2 p.m., educators decided to add an additional hour of science, technology, reading, engineering, art and math activities to make scheduling easier on parents.

“We’re trying to set up to support teachers and determining students’ skill gaps and making sure teachers have the materials and support needed to close the gaps,” Maria Warren, county schools elementary/RTI supervisor, said. “… Our younger students are going to work on foundational skills, so reading foundational skills, we’re going to work on that. Then our upper grades will work more on reading and comprehension and then on math. It’ll be skills that using some of the assessments that we gave throughout the year, using that assessment to be able to determine what skills are showing up most needing support.”