CANTON — Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Fischer-Mueller is pleased to share that Canton Academy and Extended School Year have begun their 2020 programs to provide students with in-person summer enrichment opportunities in accordance with public health guidelines.
“Our students have been out of the everyday, normal school setting for a few months now, so we are very pleased that we are able to offer these enrichment programs this summer,” Superintendent Fischer-Mueller said. “We are beyond thankful for the dedicated group of instructors of each program who have worked diligently to ensure these programs would abide by the necessary public health guidelines while giving students hands-on learning opportunities.”
The Canton Academy consists of five sessions that run Monday through Thursday from July 6 through Aug. 6 at the Luce School. Students who are entering first grade through eight grade in the fall are eligible to participate.
The academy consists of a number of sessions, including arts and crafts, video game design, Afro Dance Fitness, outdoor activities and games modeled after “Survivor” and creative writing, as well as academic classes in language arts and math.
Many of the classes are taught by Canton teachers. This year, three of the academy teachers are previous Canton Public Schools education practicum interns. A nurse is also on-site at all times.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s academy has staggered starting times. In addition, the size of each session is limited to 10 students in accordance with state public health guidance. Students who attend the sessions have their temperatures taken and must wear a mask when within 6 feet of other students.
“Canton Academy is in its 16th year and it’s wonderful to see how much the program has grown in the past 15 years. The academy started with about 120 kids and in 2019 we had 515 students participate,” said Canton Academy Director Ed Amico. “Though this year looks a little different, we work each year to make the academy a caring and welcoming place where students can come to have fun, make new friends and build relationships with our instructors. I believe that the family atmosphere we create is what makes Canton Academy such a special summer program.”
Extended School Year Special Education Programs
The Extended School Year (ESY) summer program serves approximately 80 students with disabilities from Pre-K to age 22. The program is designed to prevent substantial regression for participating students, and the programs and services are recommended by a student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) team.
This summer includes eight programs that run a combination of days Monday through Thursday from July 13 through Aug. 20. ESY also consists of hourly tutoring or related services scheduled for students throughout the program.
Summer curriculum focuses on academics, social skills and activities of daily living. This summer, the curriculum will also focus on health and safety and assisting students in correct hand hygiene, the wearing of masks if they are able and social distancing through the use of age-appropriate visuals, social stories and teacher modeling.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the program has implemented a hybrid model which allows for students to receive 50% of their academic programming in person and 50% remotely. This ensures smaller class sizes, increased staffing to support students’ transition back to school and increased ability for regularly scheduled cleaning and sanitizing of rooms and materials.
Programs where staff rotate among groups, such as speech and language, occupational and physical therapy and counseling, are provided remotely to the students while in the program or remotely to the family. Parents were also given the opportunity to have their child receive all services remotely.
ESY staff have worked diligently to ensure the program’s adherence to public health guidelines. To prepare for the summer programming, parents received surveys and had the opportunity to participate in forums to ask questions and share concerns. Staff members also had opportunities to share feedback and assisted with preparation.
Staff completed a thorough health and safety training. Due to the nature of the programming and the needs of the students ESY serves, maintaining 6 feet of distance and having all students wear a mask is not possible. Therefore, staff use the recommended safety equipment and have received training on hand hygiene and how to demonstrate the safe and effective use of face shields, gowns, face coverings and gloves.
“We are committed to offering robust, yet safe instruction to all of our students through a mix of in person and remote learning,” said Meghan Byrne, Assistant Director of Student Services. “We are appreciative of all our parents who gave feedback throughout our planning process and our staff who helped ensure our environment would meet public health guidelines. We are thrilled to be able to welcome back our students this summer.”