By: Josh Bazan
Covington Independent Public Schools is doubling the amount it pays summer school teachers in an effort to keep them on board during an unusually crowded summer semester.
The district said students and families want to get back on track and help fight COVID-19-related learning loss after a challenging school year.
“We know that there is always a summer learning loss for vulnerable populations, but when you pair that with a COVID learning loss, there is a lot of catch up that we need to do with our students,” said Stacie Strotman, Covington Schools director of community and family engagement.
The demand for the summer learning program Camp Covington is higher than ever. About 500 students normally participate in Covington's various summer programs across the district, but district leaders expect to see closer to 850 this year. In order to make sure they have enough teachers, the district is doubling their hourly summer pay from $24 to $50.
“Teachers are tired. They need a break, but it’s just a way to show our appreciation,” John G. Carlisle Elementary School principal Tara Bell said. “It’s great to give that to them and show them that they’re appreciated. And to be able to retain teachers in Covington.”
Non-teaching support staff will also see a bump in basic pay. Newport Independent Schools is taking the same approach to have staff ready for students through the summer.
“We’re making more of a robust program,” Strotman said. “While we are working on reading and math, we want to make sure that we’re supporting the whole child.”
Covington’s summer program is also expanding to six weeks, and a specific curriculum has been designed to help students get back on track after a year of academic challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“They thought about all the extras that we needed,” Bell said. “We have a physical education teacher. We have special education teachers here this summer. We have an ELL (English Language Learner) teacher so we’re ensuring that we’re supporting all our students.”
The cost of the expanded Covington summer program is being paid for with federal COVID-19 relief funds.
The program runs from June 14 through July 23.
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