Summer school will include some options for in-person instruction for students who struggled with distance learning this spring, including those in special education, schools Superintendent Christina Kishimoto says.
For other public school students, the summer offerings will be online. So far, 18 Department of Education schools — mostly middle and high schools — have committed to holding summer sessions via distance learning, but plans are still being firmed up.
“We hear our parents loud and clear,” Kishimoto said in a conversation streamed Friday on the Honolulu Star-Advertiser website. “There are parents who are taking full advantage of the online tele-learning approach because it fits the readiness of the students … but there are also a whole group of students where tele-learning is not appropriate to their needs.”
“Those are the families we are most concerned with, which is why we want to get them back into school buildings during the summer session to start instruction and services,” she said. “Special-education students are typically educated in small groups. For some of them it’s going to be one-on-one.”
Classroom offerings would have a maximum of six to eight students and focus on those who are “most struggling,” Kishimoto said.
“In order to keep to the social-distance guidance to have a slow start-up to school reopening, we are keeping very limited numbers at school sites,” she said.
Courses offered to high school students through E-school, an entirely online operation that has operated for many years, have already filled up for this summer and have waiting lists. No further registrations are being accepted. Seniors in the class of 2020 were allowed to sign up for those courses due to the disruption of their final school year.
Hawaii Technology Academy, a “blended learning” public charter school, is offering a virtual summer school and accepting registration until May 28 for sessions starting in June. A list of public school campuses offering summer sessions through distance learning is available online at hawaiipublicschools.org.
On Thursday the Board of Education will consider a resolution, drafted by Chairwoman Catherine Payne, directing the department to give priority for summer instruction to groups of students most affected by the switch to distance learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Payne calls on the department to focus on four groups in particular:
>> Students in special education with “Extended School Year services” in their individual plans who might need more intensive support
>> Juniors and seniors in the current school year who need to recover academic credits
>> Students entering middle or high school who would substantially benefit from summer school to prepare for those transitions
>> Students who would substantially benefit from summer school to fulfill grade level requirements.
“Every student is a priority, but when there is limited time and resources, we must make a policy call as a board as to where the department should focus its attention,” Payne wrote.
The department is expected to announce its full plans for summer school soon.
The next academic year is scheduled to start Aug 4. Students who were not enrolled in a public or charter school last year and wish to sign up should go online to bit.ly/HIDOE-enroll. Officials are working on plans for how to reopen campuses in a safe manner that meets the needs of students and parents, Kishimoto said.