John Wink (copy) (copy)

Carthage ISD plans to offer both in-person and virtual summer school starting in July.

Carthage ISD plans to push its summer school program back to July and said it does plan to offer in-person instruction in addition to virtual learning.

Superintendent John Wink told trustees at their Monday meeting the idea to push back summer school was so that students could get a break.

“One of the things that we noticed is just because of so much work that’s been going on from the teachers, from the parents, from the students, we thought that maybe instead of having summer school during June that it would be better to give everyone a break during June, allow some families to have some family time without the need for school and starting summer school later in June,” Wink said.

School districts must use their best judgment, based on the local spread of the new coronavirus, to decide whether to offer summer school on campus, according to guidance from the Texas Education Agency issued Monday. And they cannot make in-person attendance mandatory, even for students who need to attend summer school to move to the next grade.

Staff members or students who go back to school buildings this summer will experience a marked change from the typical summer school. Teachers will have to take students’ temperatures every day, students will be supervised while washing their hands for 20 seconds twice a day, and dividers will separate student desks.

Any students and staff members who attend summer school in person must stay 6 feet apart and cannot meet in groups larger than 11. School districts are encouraged to stagger school start and end times to reduce the number of students walking close together in the hallways, and parents are encouraged to stay outside to pick up and drop off their children.

Students cannot attend assemblies, go on field trips or gather in groups outside of individual classes unless 30 feet can be kept between groups. A positive COVID-19 case in a school will require a two-week closure of the classes that were exposed to the sick person. School gyms, weight rooms and indoor workout facilities cannot reopen, but students can participate in some outdoor sports as long as they follow Department of State Health Services guidance.

Wink said Monday the district understands some families’ concerns about COVID-19 might make them hesitate to take their children to summer school, and he said a virtual program would be available that is similar to the at-home learning taking place now.

“We will be able to have that available to our parents,” Wink said. “But I think we’re moving forward in the right direction to make sure that we — not close gaps from this year, but really get a jump start on next year. That’s really what the spirit of having it in July is: To really accelerate some learning so when the kids come back to school next year they’ll have a solid foundation.”

“We’re glad that we’re going to be able to do the face-to-face,” Assistant Superintendent Donna Porter said, noting the district already has some teachers assigned to classes. “There’s some details that we’re going to have to work on as far as trying to get it all together.”

Porter said the district would also continue its summer feeding program for children who need it.

The Texas Tribune contributed to this report.