The Monroe County School System is currently working on plans to “close the gap” for their students to catch up on lessons due to the school closures that were caused by COVID-19.

According to the Monroe County Director of Schools DeAnna McClendon, the last instructional day for the school year will be on May 15.

She plans to submit an application to the state to enlist aide from the CARES Act to use the funding on lessons and programming that will help her students refresh and learn material they may have missed the opportunity to learn due to the school closures.

“We know that many parents are essential employees and have continued to work, so they may not have been able to give the six or seven hours of instruction a day that our children would typically receive if they were in school,” said McClendon. “We are going to be using some of our funding to do what we call ‘gap instruction’ and camps this summer.”

They also plan to utilize the school year to discern where any potential weaknesses may lie in the education of the students due to both the closures and summer break.

“One good thing for our district this year was that we implemented a curriculum map which took our students all through the skills that were required for their grade level,” said McClendon. “We have covered all of our requirements for this year but that doesn’t mean that the students haven’t forgotten them, so we will be using the CARES Act money to address those needs as well.”

The summer programs will be optional for the students that wish to participate.

“I would encourage parents who were essential employees and may not have had the time to keep up with current material to take this opportunity,” said McClendon. “I know that I have been working long shifts and have not been able to teach my children all of the material, so this is even an opportunity for me to place them in a summer learning environment to address some of those gaps.”

She believes the impact from COVID-19 may change what is considered normal for the schools leading into the future.

“We don’t know what the new normal will look like,” said McClendon. “I think we will all have to be patient with ourselves and one another as we figure out and adjust to what this means.”

She spoke about the pride she feels for how the teachers have responded during the virus situation.

“One of the things that I am most proud about is the teachers’ reactions to this situation,” said McClendon. “Some of them have never Zoomed or taught a class online but they all rose to the occasion ... so I want to say thank you to everyone, to all of the people who came together to make sure that our children had all of the necessary resources needed for academic success and even nutrition.”

She believes this year marked a change on how the school proceeds with education.

“I believe that this will be the year of professional development for our teachers because we know that we will have to work with our teachers and principals to plan ahead in case something like this were to happen again,” said McClendon.

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