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Students participating in Extended School Services program to regain in-person instruction lost during pandemic

Bell Elementary students working during ESS hours


     Wayne County Schools are making up lost ground that may have occurred during virtual learning this school year. The district is trying to close the achievement gap in all kinds of ways to compensate for any lost learning opportunities that happened during virtual or hybrid schedules. Teachers, support staff and bus drivers are working extra hours to accommodate the students.

     Summer school classes have been added to the schedule that will be held June 7-July 2. Teachers have been available for in-person tutoring on virtual Fridays throughout the school year. A Kids Kamp is being held four days over spring break at Bell Elementary. Extended School Service (ESS) programs are currently underway at each school. The 21st Century After School Program continues to provide enrichment classes and homework help, as well for students in third through eighth grades.

      In order to help busy parents, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, the School Transportation Department provides bus service along 11 routes throughout the county that depart Bell Elementary after 4:30 p.m., followed up by Wayne County Middle School and Monticello Elementary. That is an extra run following the regular dismissal time at 3:15 p.m. when some 50 buses haul students home all over the county. Other ESS opportunities exist after school at WCMS and Monticello Elementary Schools who partner with the 21st Century After School Program on Mondays and Wednesdays. So, students take advantage of bus transportation on Tuesdays and Thursdays with parent pick up on Mondays and Wednesdays.

       The 21st Century program is in full swing after school both at Monticello Elementary and Wayne County Middle School Monday through Thursdays, after perking students' interest on a total virtual basis throughout most of the school year. The 21st Century After School program obtained a waiver for the first time to offer programming during the school day, as well, due to the pandemic. So, two hours during the morning, students receive tutoring services at both Monticello Elementary and WCMS. After school, a wide range of classes and enrichment activities, as well as homework help and afternoon snack are provided to those students. The 30 minute virtual rotations after school at the elementary level include: homework help or tutoring, express yourself, brain games, book nook, recipes, leadership, and interesting field trips around the world. In person opportunities are focused on academic support and closing the achievement gap caused by the pandemic. The middle school offers virtual classes like: homework help, yoga, STEM, drawing, dance, and virtual field trips.

      "Our students have traveled the world by watching virtual field trips. They have toured the nation’s capital, San Diego Zoo, Grand Canyon, Louisville Slugger Museum, and many more places," said 21st Century Coordinator Katherine Kidd. Their program concludes on May 20 and they are waiting to receive guidelines on how to facilitate their summer camp season as to whether it will be virtual or in-person.     

      Bell Elementary is pleased with their average enrollment of 124 students on Tuesdays and Thursdays during ESS. Half of the children ride the bus home and the other half participate in parent pick up.  Monticello Elementary and WCMS follow suit with after school hours offered through the 21st Century Program. Average enrollment for Monticello Elementary on Tuesdays and Thursdays has been around 100 students. Average enrollment for WCMS has been 50 students.

      Early morning tutoring is another way to help students catch up at Walker Early Learning Center. The youngest learners do not have an attention span that would work well with after school tutoring.

       So, Walker Early Learning Center offers two different 30-minute shifts in the morning before school starts on weekdays. An average of 25 kindergarten students are taking advantage of that program designed to address the specific needs of each child. There were 47 kindergarten students invited to participate.

      At the high school level, teachers have been available throughout the pandemic to work with students on individual basis in a variety of subject areas at times that would be convenient for students. The Math Department has offered virtual zoom tutoring since the start of the school year. Most recently, the English and Social Studies Department is offering after school in-person tutoring from 3:30-4:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays to help students catch up. With almost a full school year of virtual classes and more flexibility in student routines, there have been a lot of high school students who have gotten jobs and are working at all different hours. While that can create obstacles to their academics, the students have become employed, so it is hard not to admire them for their work ethics in that regard.

      In addition the new Area Technology Center staff are offering all kinds of tutoring opportunities, which includes some Saturdays after spring break to help their students improve their grades or obtain industry certifications. Their students have studied virtually, however, so many of their courses require more hands-on learning they have been at a disadvantage through the pandemic and are anxious to catch up.     

      Most students across the district perform best through in-person teaching. However, some of the students benefitted from virtual instruction and performed their best learning from home, so they do not need the extra help currently being offered. The bottom line is every student is different and learn in different ways, so educators have upgraded their skills and are making every effort to accommodate their students’ individual learning needs, especially during these unusual times.  

Bell Elementary students are catching up with interesting in-person tutoring classes after school

Bell Elementary students spread out at ESS program

Bell Elementary students working during ESS hours

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