Coronavirus changes delivery of summer school

Enrollment in Shawano programs expected to drop as a result
Lee Pulaski
City Editor

SHAWANO — School buildings are still closed through June 30 due to the coronavirus pandemic, making it necessary for the Shawano School District summer school program to go virtual like regular classes.

The Shawano School Board received an update on plans for summer school Monday, learning that the virtual learning was the only feasible way to keep summer school going altogether.

“We’ve gone through a few different plans, hoping we’d be able to open up,” said Rod Watson, the district’s summer school coordinator. “It doesn’t look like we’re going to be able to do that this year.”

A survey was sent out to parents in the district to see what would be preferred. Watson said the virtual option was not the most popular, but that parents understood it was the best choice during the pandemic.

“If we’re going to have the summer school program, we’re only going to be able to have it virtually,” he said.

A lot of the original nuts and bolts will remain in place. Summer school will run four days per week from June 15 through July 16. Watson said about 20 minutes worth of schoolwork will be part of daily activities, an option shown to be popular on the parent survey.

The lessons will be sent through regular packets to families, as feedback from Hillcrest Primary School and Olga Brener Intermediate School showed the packets — which were the learning option for those two schools in the last month — were received better than the online learning offered to middle and high school students. School administrators had pointed out in previous meetings that many rural areas lack the infrastructure to provide sustainable internet service.

“We’re aware that there are some pretty significant technology gaps in our community,” Watson said.

Some of the fun classes, such as sports and performance classes, do not convert well to virtual learning, according to Watson, so those classes will not be part of the usual offerings. As a result, enrollment numbers are expected to be down; Watson noted there were about 500 students signed up for summer school prior to learning that traditional summer school could not take place.

Watson pointed out that, due to missing over two months of regular classes, the district wanted to be sure to prioritize students who were having difficulty in reading, math and other standard subjects before offering enrichment courses.