School districts weigh summer school options as Florida, Georgia slowly reopen

Future of summer classes, camps in flux as school boards consider lingering COVID-19 threat

File photo
File photo

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As a spring semester of distance learning comes to a close, school districts in northeast Florida are having to decide the plan for summer classes and programs.

While some districts plan to continue remote coursework for the summer session, others have yet to make a decision.

The St. Johns County School District told News4Jax on Tuesday that the district is waiting to see how long the state will remain in phase one of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ plan to reopen the Sunshine State.

“The conversation is underway,” spokeswoman Christina Langston said.

In Clay County, the school board is set to vote Thursday night on a proposal to offer six of its programs through virtual instruction, including Third Grade Summer Reading Camp, Sixth Grade/Junior High-Grade Recovery and High School Credit Recovery. The full agenda item can be viewed here.

Columbia County School District’s superintendent told News4Jax the board is considering moving the start date of summer programs.

“We have not made final plans for summer school,” Alex Carswell Jr. said via email. “We are meeting and trying to determine when it will be safe to return. We are tentatively looking at maybe pushing it back and starting it in July, but no decision has been made.”

Bradford County’s district hadn’t made a final decision on how it will offer its third-grade summer camp.

"Tentatively, we hope we will be able to run the camp in a face to face model by late June or July using one teacher with a group of 9 students or less to maintain distancing protocols if those are still in effect,” said Sherree Alvarez, the district’s director of school improvement and accountability. “We thought about a virtual offering, but most of our third graders affected by this do not have reliable access to the internet and, more importantly, we believe that a face to face, an in-person class is the best instructional practice for these at-risk students.”

Alvarez said the district will provide a virtual learning opportunity if a student’s parent or guardian isn’t comfortable with the student coming to campus. Other summer school options would likely follow the same scheduling guidelines as the third-grade summer camp.

“We are consulting with Bradford Emergency Management and our local health department as part of our decision-making process,” Alvarez said.

In Georgia, the spokesperson for the Glynn County School System said leaders are “tentatively working on the issue” of how to handle summer programs. Meanwhile, Camden County schools told News4Jax it will continue distance learning for all summer activities.

Representatives from the school districts in Duval, Nassau, Baker, Putnam, Flagler and Alachua Counties did not immediately respond to News4Jax’s request for the status of the summer school discussion.

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