School district worried about ‘learning loss’

The Hudson City School District plans to use federal aid money to expand its summer school offerings, citing a “learning loss” from pandemic instruction.

HUDSON — The Hudson City School District eyes expanded summer school, citing a learning loss from the COVID-driven hybrid remote and in-person education model.

Some students have been attending school entirely remotely while others have attended in person two to four days a week. All students have been remote one day a week.

District Superintendent Maria Suttmeier anticipates the school will have remote options again this fall, she said to the school board last week. She expects the district will need a plan B to its regular education format for at least one year as the impact of the COVID-19 virus remains unknown.

But the hybrid learning structure has been hard for some students, with some thriving virtually and others failing.

“The learning loss is real right now,” Suttmeier said.

Elementary students whose families opted in for in-person learning come to school four days a week and junior high school and high school students who attend in-person come twice a week.

Summer school and other district efforts will help level the playing field for students in September, Suttmeier said April 13. Forty-seven students in grades six through eight were identified for failure for remote learning last month, according to Suttmeier. Those students were invited to return in person four days a week instead of two.

The school will be using federal aid money for a robust summer school, Suttmeier said.

The district does not know which pool of federal aid money the funding will come from or how much it is projected to cost, Business Administrator Jonathan Boehme said Monday.

The district will receive $25,285,942 in state aid, $1,856,505 from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act and $4,108,737 from the American Rescue Plan Act, according to Boehme’s presentation April 13. The district plans to have a 1.35% tax levy increase.

The district is having talks of including elementary students in this year’s summer school program.

Summer school for kindergarten through 5th grade students is “unprecedented but very necessary,” Superintendent for School Improvement April Prestipino said to the board April 13. “Everyone is really talking about a K through 5 summer school as much as they are talking about a 6 through 12,” she said.

The district is also developing a technical education summer institute for teachers, she said.

“It’s going to be pretty busy here this summer,” she said.

The federal aid money will enable the district to provide transportation for summer school, which is unheard of, Suttmeier said.

The state guidance for schools shifted April 9 to allow students to be three feet apart from one another instead of six feet apart in classrooms. The policy shift can allow more students in Hudson classrooms, but caveats that come with the rule bring challenges.

School board member Sage Carter said last week the district decided not to implement the change to the three feet guidance this school year because of its complexities. The distance change does not apply to transportation or eating, she said. “It’s complicated but hopefully we’ll get there for September,” Carter said.

While students can be three feet apart with the new rule, adults still have to be six feet apart from each other and from students, Prestipino said.

Prestipino plans to conduct four meetings between May and June to create an opening plan for the fall and two more in August, she said.

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