She’s planning to enroll the same number of students as usual, about 6,000. The most significant change this year is that families can choose between in-person classes and remote learning. Social distancing guidelines also mean classrooms are capped at 14 students.
"We need a lot more teachers in order to serve the same amount of students," McCalmont says.
All that added labor — not just teachers, but extra support staff — will cost the district an extra $2 million, she says.
If the influx of COVID relief money does lead to more robust summer offerings, they won’t come until next year, according to McCalmont. Because while the funds will still be around, the COVID protocols may not. If that’s the case, she’d like to see the district spend the money on serving as many as 10,000 students.
"The real story is what we're going to be dreaming up for 2022 when we are all back on our campuses together, where we don't have to focus so much energy on operations and COVID response, [so] we can really focus on instructional design and student learning," she says. "This is when we're going to see the COVID money really ignite innovation."
A couple weeks before the end of the school year, she was worried about simply maintaining regular programming.
"A successful summer will be maintaining the normal number of students that we always serve, given the pandemic and given the exhaustion point of so many of our teachers," she says.
But after a major recruitment push from the district, another 50 teachers signed up. In all, about 400 teachers stepped forward to teach this summer, enough to serve all the students who signed up.
Darielle Vigay, a seventh grade history teacher, has taught the past three summers. But this year, she’s prioritizing her own children.
"I just really wanted to dedicate that time to my kids and being able to get them out of the house," she says. "My family needed it."
And she sees value in teachers and students taking a break to focus on themselves.
"While there’s definitely learning loss that happened, if our mental health isn't right, Aug. 9 is going to be really hard," she says, referring to the start of the next school year.
Teachers are paid their same hourly rate over the summer, and the district isn’t offering any additional financial incentives this year.
For Sam Petty, a fifth grade teacher, the extra income is welcome. But he regularly signs up because he sees summer school as an opportunity for a valuable learning experience.
"I use it as my own kind of training camp," he says. "I take what I've learned from there to use it in the coming year."
Last summer, the classes were crucial in helping him figure out how to effectively teach through distance learning. This year, it’s about working the kinks out of the return to in-classroom instruction.
"It's pretty clear that we're not going back to distance learning next year fully," he says. "This is my chance to get my sea legs under me again."
After more than a year at home, Ericka Njemanze's daughter Kyra is looking forward to summer school. She’s excited to see her friends, but she’ll be bringing along her hand sanitizer.
"I'm just nervous about new things in the classroom," she says.
Despite that anxiety, Kyra can’t wait to get off the computer and onto campus to polish her multiplication and division skills, “So you can get smarter and you can prepare for the fourth grade.”
That’s what her mom is hoping, too.