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Fresno Unified Summer Academy Will Focus on Closing Learning Gaps



Student using laptop to catch up on studies during the coronavirus school closures
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Thousands of Fresno Unified School District students will get an invitation this month to attend Summer Academy online classes that will focus on math, literacy, class credit recovery, and other academic needs.

The district also will offer enrichment programs through its new Summer Camp, which will be open to Summer Academy students as well as other students at all grade levels, Superintendent Bob Nelson said Monday afternoon during a videoconference with local reporters.

“We really are trying to target students’ needs and do so in a way that is as enriching and relevant as possible.”FUSD administrator Jeremy Ward

Both will start on June 9 and run most of the summer, some winding up earlier and others ending by Aug. 3, he said.

Summer Academy is expanding to address concerns by students and parents that the rapid switchover from in-classroom to virtual classes because of the COVID-19 pandemic caused them to fall further behind.

Summer Academy Helps Students Catch Up

For some students, learning gaps existed prior to the school closures, said Jeremy Ward, executive officer of the College and Career Readiness program.

Summer Academy will help those students be better prepared for the upcoming school year, much as traditional summer school has done in years past, Ward said.

“We really are trying to target students’ needs and do so in a way that is as enriching and relevant as possible,” he said.

Students will receive a letter the week of May 25 as to whether they are invited to Summer Academy, which will consist of “daily, teacher-led learning activities” conducted through distance learning, Nelson said.

“Those classes include K-3 Literacy Academy, Math Academy, High School Credit Recovery, we have our A4 (African American Academic Acceleration), our Reading Academy, individualized special education instruction — those are just a few of the offerings that we have in our Summer Academy program,” he said.

Students who need a device to access the internet should contact their school site, Nelson said.

Summer Camp Enrichment

The Summer Camp courses also will be via distance learning. Offerings include summer STEM camp for grades three to five, career readiness for grades nine to 12, and recreational physical fitness, Nelson said.

The district will hire extra teachers for the Summer Academy, using savings from bus transportation and other funds that were not completely spent after the pandemic caused schools to close in mid-March, Ward said. He did not provide a dollar amount for the potential extra teaching costs.

Ward said he expects most Summer Academy teachers will be from Fresno Unified, and any other needed staff will be hired from outside the district.

Nelson said Fresno Unified teachers have the right of first refusal for the Summer Academy teaching jobs.

Nancy Price is a multimedia journalist for GV Wire. A longtime reporter and editor who has worked for newspapers in California, Florida, Alaska, Illinois and Kansas, Nancy joined GV Wire in July 2019. She previously worked as an assistant metro editor for 13 years at The Fresno Bee. Nancy earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. Her hobbies include singing with the Fresno Master Chorale and volunteering with Fresno Filmworks. You can reach Nancy at 559-492-4087 or Send an Email