Arlington public schools officials say they have too few teachers to support summer school

During a school year of mostly virtual learning, a lot of students fell behind. It left many parents hoping summer school would help turn things around, but now, some are finding out that won’t be an option.

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"We had told families that we would, we were going to provide five-day-a-week summer school this summer, contingent upon available staffing," Arlington Public Schools Director of Communications Frank Bellavia said, adding that staffing turned out to be a problem.

APS wrote a letter to parents Monday, saying, "despite having offered financial incentives to teachers … there are fewer applicants than the number of students who are eligible for summer instruction." The letter goes on to say which elementary school students will be eligible, including some pre-K students and some students with disabilities, and it notes that more detailed information about secondary summer school programming will be shared next week.

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For some families, the news is devastating.

Jennifer Cory is the parent of two Jamestown Elementary School students, including 3rd grader Maddox, who Cory said has special needs and is now a grade-level behind in reading.

"He needs every bit of additional support that he can get," Cory said, "and we were really hoping that this summer would be that chance for him to catch up."

In response to the Cory’s story and others, Bellavia said, "We’re sorry that this happened. We really, we thought we could provide summer school to the students who needed it, but we just couldn’t find the staffing necessary to meet those needs."

The issue may stretch beyond Arlington. Tuesday Fairfax County Public Schools told Fox 5 that while "other enrichment opportunities" will be available, "we do not anticipate offering summer instruction to all students." Rather, the district plans to offer it to students who FCPS staff members believe would benefit from summer school. In other words, it will not be based on parent request.

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Meanwhile, Loudoun County Public Schools said, "at this point, we anticipate being able to meet the needs of students in elementary summer school."

And in Montgomery County, they said, "we look forward to providing engaging summer programs to all students interested in participating."

APS is making what they call "instructional resources" available to all students over the summer. The district also plans to hold a virtual town hall focused on summer school next week.