More than 11,000 students enrolled in Fulton County Schools’ in-person summer school program, which was designed to help kids catch up since the pandemic and virtual classes slowed some students’ progress.

At many of the 39 schools used for summer school, lines formed for registration on the first day of classes, said Cliff Jones, Fulton County Schools chief academic officer, at a June 8 work session of the school board. For example, Sandy Springs Middle School reported that more than 40 students showed up on the first day, boosting participation from the 203 who had pre-registered.

Students wore masks and practiced social distancing on the first day of summer school here in the Lake Forest Elementary cafeteria. (Fulton County Schools/@FultonCoSchools)

“Out of the 11,000 students, 4,200 of our students who are participating in face-to-face summer school were formally virtual students from the spring,” Jones said. “That just gave me the goosebumps, when our data people came to me with that number. That’s exactly why we’ve created this opportunity.”

The program was designed to help accelerate learning for kids who may have had challenges during the pandemic. But it also serves as “an acclamation to get back into school buildings to develop relationships and routines,” he said.

Including both in-person and virtual students, more than 17,000 students registered for summer school, Jones said. Registration for the second summer session ends June 18. The second session begins July 1 for elementary and high school students. Middle school will not have a second summer session.

Key objectives for the summer session include support in reading and math for K-5. Middle school students were put in an accelerated “reboot” experience, which previewed the next grade level of science and social studies content. For high school students, the school district doubled the number of courses offered to clear incompletes.

For the school system, there are 1,600 staff members teaching at 39 sites and virtually this summer. Two hundred teachers signed up for virtual teaching this summer. The 5,200 students in virtual learning are taking 7,700 courses, so many of them are taking more than one course, he said.

When Jones recently visited Lake Forest Elementary, he saw two principals meeting students and parents. One was the Lake Forest principal and the second was from Heards Ferry, whose students attend summer school at the Sandy Springs school.

“This is truly something special, something needed, and I look forward to providing you on the other end of this, the results of this expansion,” he said.

Students from multiple elementary schools are attending summer school at Lake Forest Elementary, including Heards Ferry and High Point Elementary Schools in Sandy Springs. (Fulton County Schools/@FultonCoSchools)

Bob Pepalis covers Sandy Springs for Rough Draft Atlanta and Reporter Newspapers.