A new bill introduced to the General Assembly on Tuesday requires public schools to offer a six-week summer program to students whose studies have suffered from online learning.
The bill's sponsors include Rep. Jeff Zenger, R-Forsyth, Jeffrey Elmore, R-Watauga, and N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland.
Moore said at a news conference on Tuesday that the in-person program would be for students in grades K-12 who are at risk of falling behind in their academics. Enrollment in the program would not be mandatory, Moore said.
"It's really difficult for children to learn and not be in class. We know these kids are falling behind and it's something North Carolina will pay for for decades," he said.
Moore said the state has enough money to pay for every K-12 student to attend the summer program, which would be for five hours a day and five days a week.
Gov. Roy Cooper recently approved designating $1.6 billion in federal money to be used for schools for such programs as extended learning, PPE and improving protocols to make schools safe from the spread of COVID-19. Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools is expected to get $66 million from that pot of money.
He said he came up with the idea while talking to Forsyth County Commissioner Don Martin, the former superintendent of the local school district.
"I had a meeting with him about a month ago and we were just sort of wrestling with what do we do. He was one of the first who mentioned looking at a very aggressive summer school program," Moore said.
The local school district presented plans for a five-week summer program to the school board last week. Many of the components introduced in the House Bill are similar to what the local district is planning.
It includes instruction in core classes as well as activities that address students' social and emotional well-being. However, the plan is for a shorter duration, five weeks instead of six and four days a week instead of five.
"We want to make sure it's fun, engaging, hands-on, face-to-face learning," Nicolette Grant, the local district's chief academics officer told the school board last week.
School staff would be recruited to work under six-week contracts under the proposed legislation.
The plan under the House Bill includes time for students to participate in an enrichment activity such as sports or the arts.