Summer school plans are coming into focus for Detroit schools

Students work at their their desks, which are grouped together, in a classroom as their teacher types on a computer at the front of the room.
Students at work in a math class at Southeastern High School in Detroit, MI. Photo by Anthony Lanzilote/Chalkbeat �June, 2019 photo� (Anthony Lanzilote for Chalkbeat)

When summer school begins next month, Detroit school district students will take part in a combination of remote and face-to-face learning, if the state has lifted the stay-at-home order. The district plans to increase its offerings to address the learning gaps that have emerged since school buildings were shut down in March in response to the coronavirus.

In a letter posted to the district’s website this week, officials said summer school would begin Monday, July 13, and run through Thursday, Aug. 6. The district plans to announce a draft of its fall reopening plan later this week.

“We will run virtual feedback sessions with students, families, teachers, school leaders, support staff, union leaders, and the greater community before implementation,” Superintendent Nikolai Vitti tweeted Tuesday evening.

Some charter schools in the city also are making summer plans. New Paradigm for Education, which operates a handful of charter schools in the city, is holding a virtual summer school for students in grades 1-11 from June 29 to Aug. 7 and providing summer homework lessons to all students. Students will be expected to journal daily and submit those journals to their teachers.

Schools statewide have turned to remote learning because of the building closures. While some instruction is happening online, Detroit district schools and many charters have also provided paper academic materials for the many students who lack internet access.

The Detroit district summer program will include academic lessons in literacy and math for students in kindergarten through eighth grade, course makeups for students in grades 6-12 who need them to graduate or move to the next grade, and virtual course offerings for students in grades nine-12.

Among the health and safety measures the district will consider taking if face-to-face classes happen: 

  • Employee COVID-19 testing.
  • Daily temperature checks for students and staff.
  • Small class sizes to ensure social distancing.
  • Limited movement in the building.
  • School meals served in the classroom.
  • Daily cleaning of classrooms.
  • Access to masks and gloves.
  • Hand sanitizer stations.
  • Limited access to schools from the public.
  • A dedicated isolation area for anyone who feels sick.

Summer school would run from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at select school sites. Transportation will be provided, but pickup and drop-off times likely will be staggered to maintain social distancing on buses.

The letter stressed that program planning is not complete and will depend on parent interest and having enough teachers to provide instruction. 

The deadline to apply for summer school in the district is June 12.

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