Wake, Durham and Johnston county's public school systems are among the districts starting their summer school programs this week.
In February, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper signed a law requiring districts to offer students in all grades at least 150 hours or 30 days of in-person summer instruction, in an effort to address learning loss during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Durham Public Schools started Operation Summer Learning this week for specialty high schools. Starting Monday, students on traditional and year-round calendars will start.
ABC11 visited the summer program at the City of Medicine Academy in Durham on Thursday.
While students are learning, summer school has more of a camp feel, with an emphasis on addressing the social and emotional needs of students -- which many lost out on while learning virtually during the pandemic and are now returning to in-person instruction.
HIgh school senior Angelique McDougald will admit her grades fell during remote learning, "Online learning wasn't the best option for me. It was depressing, just sitting in the room and looking at walls and required to be online, but it wasn't helping that I had to be home all day and do school. I feel like being around people helps me be more motivated to do my work."
Thursday's lunch included music, dancing, games and popcorn. Instruction is different too.
"We're going to have fun hands-on opportunities for hands-on learning with science," said Chanel Sidbury, the executive director for K-12 Curriculum and Instruction in Durham Public Schools. "There'll be robotics in terms of learning mathematics and we will use the arts to bring literacy instruction to life with our CAPS program here in Durham."
To serve more students under the new legislation, Durham Public Schools is serving almost 8,000 students this summer compared to the usual about 1,000 students served in the K-3 summer program.
"We have two summer sessions, so we have a June session that really focuses on that gap filling and accelerated learning," Sidbury said. "And then we also have a July session that focuses on accelerating student learning so that they can engage with the upcoming content."
Durham Public Schools is in need of about 25 to 30 teachers for its summer programs. There are incentives for teachers.
"Our teachers are getting incentives in terms of their pay," Sidbury said. "Perhaps an average teacher salary hourly wage is around $25 to $30 an hour. If a teacher elects to work Operation Summer Learning, they get paid $40 an hour. There is also an additional bonus for teachers who have bought forth growth in the previous years. They get an additional bonus. And in terms of our K-3 legislation, any teacher that moves the students from being non-proficient to proficient, our legislator is also going to give our teachers $150 per student, that is able to demonstrate mastery, at the end of our summer learning."
Wake County Public Schools started summer learning Thursday. There are about 19,000 students attending at 136 campuses.
Wake County already notified students who are invited to attend their summer program, called Camp WCPSS. Those who didn't get an invitation should contact their principal.
Summer school incentives for Wake teachers would be $45 an hour or certified hourly rate if higher..
Johnston County Public Schools students starting summer school this week. More than 10,000 students are enrolled in the summer learning program.
The program runs from June 7 to July 15.
During a typical school year, the district has about 1,200 students who attend the Summer Reading Camp, which is offered for students in grades 1-3.
Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools has 730 elementary students, 750 middle school students and 650 high school students signed up for various summer programs. The elementary programs range from June 24 to August 6 and the secondary programs range from June 21 to August 13.