More than 32,000 Gwinnett students are back in classrooms

Gwinnett County Public Schools has more than quadruple the number of students taking in-person summer school compared to 2019. AJC file photo
Caption
Gwinnett County Public Schools has more than quadruple the number of students taking in-person summer school compared to 2019. AJC file photo

More than 32,000 students across all grade levels are taking summer classes in person in Gwinnett County Public Schools, compared to 7,000 two years ago.

The district did not offer in-person summer school last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Almost 25,000 students are in the Summer Enrichment and Acceleration program for elementary and middle-schoolers, while more than 2,000 are in the Rising K Academy and almost 6,000 are taking high school classes, Associate Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Clay Hunter told the school board during a Thursday work session.

“We’ve got so many people to thank,” Hunter said. “We have teachers who stepped up, even after a challenging year, to pull this program off.”

Explore'Herculean task': Gwinnett rolls out expanded summer school

More than 2,000 teachers are working summer programs and 117 college students are serving as tutors. More than 400 bus drivers and more than 300 cafeteria workers are also supporting the program, according to school district data.

The school district is spending more than $13 million in federal coronavirus relief funds on the program, with about $10 million going to pay teachers.

The expanded summer school is a reaction to student learning loss caused by the pandemic. For elementary and middle school students, this year’s summer program is voluntary, not just limited to those in danger of repeating a grade. It involves previewing next year’s standards instead of solely reviewing last year.

“The light bulbs are coming on in terms of how this would be a lot more effective than a focus on remediation, on an assumption that students know nothing and we just need to take them back through the whole year,” Hunter said. “What the research says is, if we had gone that route, we would’ve doomed children to failure year after year after year. Students almost never get caught up when we use that.”

ExploreMore stories about Gwinnett County Public Schools

The school district, which enrolls almost 180,000, is offering a digital version of summer school to all elementary and middle school students, he said.

“It’s a great paradigm shift that we are involved in,” he said.

Summer Enrichment and Acceleration began last week. The in-person program will end July 2 and the digital program will be available until July 16.