Estimates from a McKinsey and Company study suggest that the Coronavirus pandemic could set elementary school students back up to 8 months and as COVID-19 infections continue to surge this total only increases due to losses in instruction time.

In an attempt to combat this learning loss, the Scottsboro City School System is planning to offer an expanded summer reading camp this year to address these issues in students.

"This will be the most in-depth program we've offered," said Amy Childress, the assistant superintendent for Scottsboro City School System, during the Board of Education's Feb. 19 meeting.

The program, which will likely take three weeks in June, may cost the school system up to $150,000, but will help 60 of students who are struggling to meet their reading goals.

Currently, Childress expects roughly 60 students to be in the summer reading program that is required by the Alabama Literacy Act that will provide students with specialized attention to address areas they may be facing difficulties.

The program will have 10 teachers who are fully trained to provide specialized services to students related to teaching reading, including having gone through two extensive training programs. This will allow the program to have a proposed 6-to-1 student teacher ratio and provide more one on one instructional services and other "enrichment activities."

Last year, according to Childress, the school system held a similar program virtually that helped the system learn a significant amount about virtual learning.

This year's program which is tentatively scheduled for the three weeks in June, will consist of 70 hours of instruction that will focus on helping students reach reading proficiency for their grade level.

The program will be open to select K-3 students who require the most assistance as measured by the schools triannual reading assessment, and students who will attend won't be finalized until during May — as the final assessment will be given during April.

According to Childress, the program is being coordinated in conjunction with various departments in the school system. This will ensure that it will function much like school normally would, providing meals for students as well as transportation to and from the school.

The program will at least be partially funded by $1.7 million the school system received from the federal government as part of CARES Act II funding. The funding will spread over the next three years as school systems continue to deal with added costs related to the COVID-19 pandemic — issues such as learning loss and student safety are at the forefront of these challenges.

Aside from funding the summer programs, the money is expected to assist in teacher training and upgrading the school system to ensure student safety amid the pandemic.

Dr. Jay Reyes, the superintendent of the city school system, said during the meeting that the system is working to ensure that the majority of this money goes directly to helping students.

One of the upgrades the system is looking at are adding additional filtration to school's duct work.

Childress said that the school system may begin notifying parents of potential eligibility in the next few weeks.

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