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Summer school to counter COVID online learning approved by House

All North Carolina school districts would be required to offer in-person summer school that targets children at risk of academic failure due to poor virtual learning during the pandemic, according to legislation approved unanimously by the House on Wednesday.

The bipartisan measure envisions roughly six weeks of instructional time, offered by current or retired teachers who would be hired temporarily. Pay and other program expenses could be covered from the $1.6 billion in federal COVID relief funds already getting distributed to districts.

Instructors would emphasize reading, math and science through eighth grade, while high schoolers would get assistance on meeting graduation requirements. Meals and school transportation also would be provided.

Children wouldn’t be required to attend, although principals would consider a student’s program completion in determining whether an at-risk student should be promoted to the next grade.

House Speaker Tim Moore, a Cleveland County Republican, is a primary sponsor of the measure, which now heads to the Senate. Moore said giving students a robust summer program will help them reduce their learning losses. Some students have been provided only virtual learning for close to a year while school buildings have been closed or restricted.

“Every year is a building block to the next level,”‘ Moore said during floor debate before the 120-0 vote. “We can’t just act like this last year didn’t happen. We have to find a way to get them caught up.”

The districts would have to present program details to the Department of Public Instruction this spring. School systems also would have to report by Sept. 1 on how program participants fared.

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