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District to offer in-person summer classes

YOUNGSTOWN — The city schools are looking at ways to keep students fully engaged in learning this summer after spending a full year being taught online.

The Youngstown City School District will provide a five-week in-person class curriculum available to all students from June 7 to July 9.

The summer school programming also will have some fun activities.

This program will provide all-day classes for students whether they have failed courses through this pandemic year, fallen behind in their classes or want to be able to participate in programs being co-sponsored by the district and community organizations.

The district may provide additional classes through the end of August, even after the five-week program is completed, according to YCSD Chief Executive Officer Justin Jennings.

“With the last year, the academics of scholars across the country and, probably the world, have suffered,” Jennings said. “We’re offering our summer enrichment program to try to stem some of that loss, but it won’t be all work.”

In addition to keeping its students on pace with reading and math, the district will provide summer courses in sciences and other topics needed to ensure graduation.

Jennings emphasized this year’s summer school is not being done simply to address what has been called “learning losses” that may have been experienced by some of the students during this academic year because of the pandemic.

“Our goal is to make sure our scholars are safe and have opportunities to continue learning by having district buildings open,” he said. “This is good for the community. There has been an uptick in violence in the city, so having places where students can go through the summer will help.”

From Monday through Wednesday, students will be provided classes to strengthen academic weaknesses and other skills.

“There will be a focus on literacy,” Jennings said. “Every week, teachers will review student progress to determine the next week’s lessons.”

On Thursdays and Fridays, the district will provide literacy enrichment programs sponsored by organizations, including the United Way, Red Zone, YMCA, Boys and Girls Club, OH! WOW science museum and others.

Students also will be able to participate in outside sports activities.

Youngstown schools will have visual arts — painting and drawing, music — as well as theater.

“Every student will have the opportunity to learn to play an instrument this year,” Jennings said. “We want them to have exposure.”

The number of students participating in the summer school program has not been determined. The deadline for registering is Wednesday.

Youngstown schools are able offer this extensive summer programming because of the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds it received from the state, according to Jennings.

In the latest round of funding, announced in February, Youngstown is expected to receive $22,338,287. Last fall, Youngstown City Schools received $5,655,164 in relief funds. At the time, school officials said the district would be using the money to purchase laptops and Chromebooks for students.

High school sessions will be at East and Chaney high schools, as well as Choffin Career and Technical Center.

Preschool through eighth grade students will take summer classes at Kirkmere or Harding elementary schools. Transportation, breakfast and lunch will be provided to all participants.

Youngstown Board of Education member Brenda Kimble wondered if virtual classes will be offered because “some parents are still concerned about sending their students into the school buildings.”

She also questioned at what academic point the teachers will begin their summer school lessons. “Are they going to teach toward data learned while students were online?”

Board President Ronald Shadd is pleased the district is rejuvenating the music education programming.

“It is a shame that to make the district better, we are in a position of having to bring back programs that existed prior to (former CEO Krish) Mohip and the ADC (Academic Distress Commission),” Shadd said. “The music program has been reduced to a point where it is difficult to have a band.”

rsmith@tribtoday.com

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