Pitt County Schools plans to add 30 days of summer school this year to help combat learning loss from days missed due to the coronavirus pandemic, officials said last week.

Steve Lassiter, assistant superintendent of educational programs and services, told the Board of Education at an April 19 workshop that two, 15-day sessions of summer school are planned in June and July for students who have fallen behind. The summer school plan was announced 10 days after Gov. Roy Cooper signed House Bill 82, known as the summer school bill, into law.

The law, which received unanimous approval from the state Board of Education on Monday, requires every school district in the state to offer an in-person summer school program. But the program is not mandatory for students.

Pitt County Schools’ summer program, scheduled to begin June 10 and end July 29, will not be open to all students.

“We just want to be open and transparent to parents that this is going to be a small number of students who will qualify and be given this opportunity,” Lassiter said. “Students who qualify must be at risk.”

In kindergarten through eighth grade, qualifying students are those who are failing reading or math and/or are considered two grade levels behind according to the iReady assessment system. For high school students, summer school will be available to seniors who need a course to graduate as well as freshmen, sophomores and juniors who are at-risk of not being promoted due to having too few credits.

The district is planning to enroll no more than 18 students per classroom.

With the exception of June 14-18, summer school will meet Mondays through Thursdays. Monday, July 5, will be a holiday.

Elementary school hours will be 7:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., and middle and high school hours will be 8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Although Pitt County Schools has not yet decided which buildings will be used, transportation will be available to all sites.

While students will be required to attend both sessions, Lassiter said the district is encouraging teachers to take at least part of the summer off.

“To prevent burnout because our teachers have worked so hard this year, we are encouraging teachers to only work one 15-day session,” he said.

Public Information Officer Jennifer Johnson said the district began notifying parents of qualifying students on Monday. The deadline for student applications is April 27.

“The law says if space is available other students can opt in,” Lassiter said.

Instruction will focus on reading and math for kindergarten through second grade. Students in grades three through eight will receive instruction in reading, math and science.

Both age groups will participate in physical education and one enrichment activities such as music, arts or sports.

High school students will have access to in-person instruction in end-of-course subjects including biology, English and math. Additional instruction will be provided in elective courses, with students also receiving support for credit recovery courses needed to meet graduation requirements.

Johnson said that in recent years, schools’ summer programming has involved credit recovery efforts at the high school level and Read to Achieve for third-graders. In 2020, about 1,000 students participated in four-week Jump Start camp based on Read to Achieve legislation.

Contact Kim Grizzard at kgrizzard@reflector.com or call 329-9578.