Omaha Public Schools students could spend some of their summer inside the classroom.
Because of the disruptions caused by COVID-19, all OPS students will have an opportunity to sign up for summer school. The district has renamed the summer sessions Next Level Learning for Summer 2021.
The sessions are from June 2 to 30 and from July 6 to 23. The district will offer morning sessions, afternoon sessions, full-day sessions or one-hour options. There will also be one-on-one tutoring.
Melissa Comine, chief academic officer at OPS, told the school board about the district’s plans at a meeting last week. It’s the district’s first step in a multipart plan to help students catch up on learning lost to COVID-19.
Comine told the school board that the disruptions caused by the pandemic call for “urgent, aggressive and compassionate action.”
Families will have an opportunity to sign up for summer sessions next month. Transportation to and from school will be available for eligible students.
Comine said elementary and middle school students may have to find a ride to or from school if they opt for the half-day session. At the high school level, transportation will be offered at the beginning, middle and end of the day.
OPS high school students age 16 and up will also have an opportunity to get a paid internship mentoring and tutoring elementary students this summer. The district will pay the students $10 an hour, and there’s a possible dual credit option through Metropolitan Community College for students who take a human relations course.
The high school students could also receive one OPS elective credit for an internship of 90 hours.
The students will have to go through an application process similar to what OPS staff goes through, including a background check and getting a recommendation from a teacher.
“We have a position for everybody, and they can still participate in summer learning,” Comine said of the jobs.
The district also needs OPS teachers to sign up to teach this summer. OPS officials said the opportunity will be advertised to new and current staff, schedules will be flexible, there will be job-sharing opportunities, and there will be professional learning and planning time during the day.
Given that teachers are teaching through an extremely difficult year, board President Shavonna Holman and Vice President Jane Erdenberger asked whether pay for teachers could be increased for working summer school. Teachers are paid $28.50 an hour to teach summer school.
Charles Wakefield, the district’s chief human resources officer, said that pay for summer school is a negotiated item in teachers’ contracts and that the district would have to negotiate with the Omaha Education Association, which represents teachers, to increase the pay.
OPS received $86.4 million through the federal COVID-19 relief package passed in December. Superintendent Cheryl Logan said there’s a lot of latitude in how that money can be used, including for COVID-19 recovery or for addressing issues that arose from COVID-19.
Board member Marque Snow asked OPS officials how much the summer learning program would cost. Logan said that until the district has a better student count, she couldn’t give the board an exact dollar figure.