Lagging students may need summer school

Senior Karly Grengs chooses a chocolate frosted doughnut when school staff, Jamie Fryslie and Josh Cleveland, stopped by before 8 a.m. Friday to tell her she is doing a great job with online learning.

Flandreau school administrators are putting together a plan to provide summer school to students who have fallen behind because of virtual learning.
The program will be offered to elementary, middle school and high school students and can include anyone who would benefit from additional help. The school board authorized Superintendent Rick Weber to hire a coordinator and start putting together the program.
High School Principal Nichole Herzog said about 20 of the 35 high school students who are learning online could benefit from additional time after school is dismissed so that they can earn their credits. Some middle school students are not ready for high school because they are so far behind, and there are virtual learners in the elementary grades who struggle.
“Summer school would allow them to get caught up,” she said.
While many students have struggled, others have done well, said both Herzog and Weber.
 “We have some that are super successful,” Herzog said.
On Friday morning, she and the school’s virtual learning team delivered doughnuts to students who are doing well working from home.
Senior Karly Grengs has studied online this year and was the first stop for the doughnut brigade. She said being able to work from home and raise her son at the same time is a great option. She also works three jobs, including some day hours that she wouldn’t be able to do if she didn’t have the flexibility of online learning.
“Online learning has been one of the biggest reasons as to why I’m doing so well. Having the choice as to when I can work on my schoolwork has helped in so many ways,” Grengs said. “I’m thankful every day that the school gave us this option for the year.”
Because of the threat of COVID-19, the Flandreau district allowed students and their families to decide whether to attend classes in person this year or learn virtually. The district also has staff that check in with students to see how they are doing and to help them understand assignments.
This is the second year that school has been disrupted by the pandemic. In March of 2020, students across the state were sent home and in-person classes were canceled. Students at the lower grades completed packets of work and participated in virtual learning, and online learning was implemented for older students. All activities were canceled, and graduation was held outdoors.
At the high school level, the degree to which students are completing work varies. Some students are doing well in some subject areas but struggling in other classes. Some students, like Grengs, are doing outstanding. However, some students haven’t completed anything, and the school has had to use the truancy process for those who are not engaged in their learning, Herzog said.
Details of a summer school program are being planned now and will go before the school board at its March meeting, Weber said. It hasn’t been decided if the additional learning time will be voluntary or mandatory for students who struggle.
The in-person program could start the end of May or first part of June. For high school and middle school students, it might be two weeks long, for example.
Board members encouraged Weber to work with other educational groups in town, including the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe’s program and the Boys & Girls Club of Moody County.
Weber said he has talked many times with the tribal education staff. “This would be very similar to what they’re doing. They have tutors coming in, and we would have certified staff coming in.”

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