Guilford County students flock to summer school by thousands after year of remote learning

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GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) – Nearly 16,000 Guilford County Schools students are heading to summer classes on Monday. 

It’s a large spike compared to around 1,200 students who attended the last summer session before the pandemic hit in 2019. 

“The kids are ready to go,” said Tara Burgio-Wheelihan, a parent of two GCS students. “Just to make sure that they’re on pace to have a good start.” 

Parents are hoping the summer school classes will help their children get up to speed after more than a year of challenges including virtual learning.

“Even if she didn’t need it, she was still going,” said Ashley Prudent, a mother of a GCS student. “I don’t want her to lose out on things that maybe if she still had a full year of in-person learning.” 

According to the school district, 15,710 students are enrolled for the full-day, in-person or virtual program. Students will attend class Monday through Thursday. 

Around 1,600 GCS teachers like Diamond Williams have changed their summer plans to make it possible.

“We just need to meet each child where they are and go from there,” Williams said. 

There’s a wide range of academic and enrichment programming to select from in all grades. Middle and high schoolers can go for a “fifth quarter” to make up for failing a course, possibly turning an “F” into a “D.”  

“For those students who failed, but might not have been too far, they can do the assignments that are assigned to them and get them up to a passing grade,” Williams said. “I think it also builds their confidence level back up for the incoming school year.” 

GCS Superintendent Sharon Contreras told FOX8 the two three-week sessions will not make up for the learning loss during the pandemic. She said it will help prepare students academically, socially, and emotionally for the next grade level.  

“At the end of the summer the expectation is not that all that has been lost will be regained immediately, but that students are in a much better place and that they are resuming the sense of normalcy,” she said. 

GCS seventh grader Nylah Prudent told FOX8 she looks forward to the summer classes.

“I’m just trying to get better at stuff I didn’t learn or wasn’t really good at,” she said. 

According to Contreras, the school district is working to fill 29 vacancies associated with summer school program. Until then, central office staff will fulfill the roles. 

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