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A tough school year will soon give way to much needed summer learning

Several public school districts in Hampton Roads are beefing up their summer academic programs to help kids who suffered through virtual learning.

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — Public school districts in Hampton Roads are beefing up their summer learning offerings after perhaps the toughest academic ever.

Administrators, teachers, students, and parents alike admit unfinished learning is more dramatic this year as many students suffered through virtual learning.

In Newport News, the Summer Programs for Arts, Recreation and Knowledge (SPARK) is expanding to eight elementary sites instead of four. The five-week, free, in-person program is for grades K-8. High school students can enroll in two, three-week sessions for credit advancement and credit recovery for a fee.

"We're focusing on literacy with small group instruction and math. We'll also offer STEM activities in the afternoon," said Newport News Public Schools Superintendent, Dr. George Parker.

RELATED: Thousands of Newport News students return to classrooms for in-person learning

While the program is open to all students, some students are invited to attend based on diagnostic data.

"We want to be able to provide students who may not be scoring where they need to in terms of literacy and math; we want to provide the additional supports," added Parker

Currently, schools across the state are administering Standards of Learning tests in a variety of subjects. Data from those exams and other assessments will be critical in identifying learning gaps.

"Our students are taking the MAP assessments in math and reading, so we'll use that information," said York County Schools' Chief Academic Officer, Candi Skinner. 

The data will come in handy as York County prepares for its free Summer Academy where literacy and math will be the main focus.

"Our students will also have opportunities where they can have hands-on learning, they can have movement and social and emotional support," said Director of Elementary Instruction, Dr. David Reitz.

York County also has a summer enrichment camp and AP Boot Camps for high school students.  

Several other school districts are also offering summer help: