Hamilton County Schools' summer catch-up program reached more than 1,900 students

(Courtesy Photo) Izabella Balli, a third-grader at Middle Valley Elementary, shows her perfect attendance award for the summer program.
photo (Courtesy Photo) Izabella Balli, a third-grader at Middle Valley Elementary, shows her perfect attendance award for the summer program.

The Hamilton County Schools' summer learning program designed to catch students up for instruction lost during the spring coronavirus crisis was deemed a success by district officials.

Larrie Reynolds, administrator in charge of the Reach summer program, said through a news release that students enjoyed it.

Reynolds added that the students showed "tremendous academic growth" during the summer learning program. He said one example was a student who scored 13% on the pretest and 96% on the post-test.

"We have similar cases where children clearly benefited tremendously from the high-quality instructional experiences," Reynolds said.

The summer program was designed to help students in danger of falling behind academically because of schools closing in the spring due to COVID-19.

There were 1,961 elementary and middle school students enrolled in the first-time program held at 25 schools districtwide. The three-week initiative ended on Friday.

The program was funded by $1.6 million in coronavirus relief bill funding provided to the school district. The Martin Family Foundation donated an additional $150,000 for student "incentives to attend and actively participate in learning," said Tim Hensley, the district's communications director, in the release.

The first priority in setting up the summer program was the health and safety of children and staff, Hensley said, including following guidance of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"All the things that CDC recommends, they did during the program," Hensley told the Times Free Press on Monday. "They were social distancing; they wore masks; they washed their hands a lot during the program. All those things were done during the program."

For three days, according to Hensley, East Ridge Middle School was temporarily closed down due to a person who tested positive for COVID-19. That person was infected outside of the program, Hensley added. The incident happened on July 24.

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"It wasn't that they were infected inside of the program," he said. "I am not aware of any of those that were [infected] as a result of being in the program."

Of the 1,961 students enrolled, the average daily attendance was 1,068. There were 640 who had perfect attendance, 187 additional students only missed one day, and 1,169 students received attitude awards, officials said.