Wake County schools pause extended learning program aimed at catching kids up from COVID-19

Wake County News

RALEIGH N.C. (WNCN) – Starting Friday, the Wake County Public School System is pausing a learning program aimed at helping students catch up on their education during the pandemic.

Around 3,600 year-round and modified schedule students signed up for the Wake County Public School extended learning program, also known as the summer learning program.

State legislation required schools to offer the voluntary 30-day learning program for students to combat education loss.

The WCPSS program originally finished for traditional-calendar students over the summer.

For modified and year-round students, the district spread out the extra learning days throughout the fall.

District officials said staffing shortages are leading to the premature pause of the program. 

“We decided to pause the program because we are experiencing a serious shortage of teachers, bus drivers and other staff members who are needed to teach and work during regular school days,” WCPSS spokesperson Lisa Luten said in a statement. “Tracks 1 through 4 will have completed 10 days as of Friday September 24. Modified calendar schools will have completed 18 days at that point.”

Parent Jenna Ochsenhirt said she’s disappointed in the decision and that the program was a big success for her son in a year-round special education program at Neuse River Middle School.

“The summer program was great and it benefited my son a lot because it was an optional program, so there were less students in the classroom. It was more of a summer camp feel,” Ochsenhirt said. “Just because my child is enrolled in a year-round calendar, they shouldn’t receive less than a child who is enrolled in a traditional calendar.”

District officials said they’re looking at options for the program in the spring.

“Schools will continue to support student learning by developing and implementing instructional plans tailored to the learning needs of identified students,” WCPSS spokesperson, Michael Yarbrough said in a statement.” After-school programs also will be used for supplemental instruction.”

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