Wake parents weigh-in on bill that could require districts to offer summer school

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- It's back to school for many families in Wake County this week.

Now, some students could be headed for summer school if a new bill passes through the General Assembly.

The "Summer Learning Choice for Families", also known as House Bill 82, would require school districts to offer six weeks of learning recovery and enrichment after the school year ends.

The bill aims to "mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 on at-risk students and to require the implementation of innovative benchmark assessments.

For students in kindergarten through third-grade, in-person instruction will focus on reading and math. There will be more focused science instruction for third-grade students. Students in fourth through eighth grade, in-person instruction will focus on reading, math and science as well as at least one enrichment activity.

For the time, it doesn't appear the summer learning will be mandatory.

The education committee votes on the bill Tuesday.

"If we can provide opportunities for them to catch up for them to get additional instruction then that I think is positive," said Governor Roy Cooper, reacting to the legislation this week.

Wake County Schools said this week that enrollment dropped this year by more than 4,200 students.

Keith Sutton, a chairmember of the Wake County school board, said it's impossible to know many kids they've lost due to the pandemic but, at this point, he doesn't think they or any other district would hold anyone back.

Numbers from the Tuesday work session showed there were far more attendance violations this year in school versus those normally reported in a month.

Durham Public Schools said nearly 2,900 students withdrew to go to another school or county. DPS told ABC11 that some of the drops were due to families looking for in-person instruction while the district was in fully remote-learning.

"If that were an option to be offered, that would be great. I would not like anything to be mandatory though," said Hajnalka Klieman, a mother of five students in the Wake County School System.

Klieman is also a preschool teacher at a private school.

"My kindergartener has a classmate who did not attend a single remote class," Klieman said. "He's only seen him when he's in person. Can you imagine all the concepts he has missed?"

All of her kids went back into the classroom this week -- even her now ninth grader who hadn't seen the inside of a high school classroom just yet.

"He was in middle school last year when everything shut down so it was like the first day of school," she said.

Chair Sutton said he looked forward to having conversations around recovery moving forward in the school year. For now, he said their main focus has been trying to get students back into the classroom in some capacity.
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