Year-round school model part of conversation at Lee County Schools

Published: October 7, 2021 4:20 PM EDT
Updated: October 7, 2021 5:41 PM EDT

Schools are fighting the learning gap that was caused by the pandemic. A school district in Southwest Florida is considering a year-round education model to make up for this. Instead of a long summer vacation, you keep classes going all year with short breaks.

The Lee County Schools interim superintendent recently tweeted about the possibility of adapting a year-round learning schedule to the District.

“He’s basically looking at from you know a 500-degree up above what we can do to close achievement gap,” School board member Gwyn Gittens said.

Mother Dasha Joseph is on board with year-round schools in Lee County. Her son attends Trafalgar Elementary School in Cape Coral.

“I think it’s would be a great trial, at least, to see for a year or two to see if there’s any changes if they do see any changes in scores,” Joseph said.

Joseph’s son is among thousands of students struggling to catch up and keep up after a year of virtual school and then the transition back to in-school learning.

Experts call this the COVID-19 slide.

Interim Superintendent Ken Savage shared a study on Twitter he says proves too many kids are struggling.

Florida Department of Education conducted a study: Before the pandemic, 59% of third graders were where they should be in language arts. Now, that number is 52%.

“There’s a lot more pressure to catch up,” Joseph said. “And, you know, his attention can only handle so much. So it’s been tougher to get back. Yes.”

This growing achievement gap does not surprise Gittens.

“Consider this a kindergarten student, and in kindergarten, you learn so many basics,” Gittens said. “And we have kindergarteners that were out of school for that whole year and missed all of that.”

While Savage floated the idea of a year-round school in a tweet, the District a pilot program will not happen anytime soon.

In a statement, Lee County Schools said, before a year-round school pilot program can move forward, the school board would have to hold public hearings and negotiate with its unions.’

“Every day we missed was time lost, so the achievement gap was not that great in my opinion before, and now, it has broadened,” Gittens said.