Just days before summer school was set to start, the parents of more than 1,000 children in Northern Virginia got the news that there weren’t enough teachers to bring back every student who was promised additional learning this summer.
Fairfax County Public Schools offered an extended school year - or ESY - to many students as a result of the difficulties during distance learning.
Rising third-grade student Thaine Apker was supposed to begin to summer school on Monday at Lane Elementary School. Instead, he's played in the backyard.
"On Wednesday, just out of the blue, towards the end of the day, we get an email from FCPS saying 'ESY date change,'" Thaine's mother Kirstin Apker said.
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Apker said the email notified her that her son's summer classes were postponed.
Her son was disappointed he couldn't go to school, she said.
"Effectively, in his way, telling me 'I want to go to school, I want to go to school' and I don't have anything to tell him. And that is incredibly frustrating," Apker said.
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Fairfax County Public Schools said it doesn't have enough teachers to bring every student back for the four-week summer session. Like Thaine, many of the students impacted are in special education.
"I'm very concerned that he might lose any of the progress that he's made with reading," Apker said.
FCPS apologized to the roughly 1,200 students who were expecting to start school Monday and said it would plan a second summer session — though it's not finalized.
The current session is five shortened days for four weeks. The tentative plan for session two is for longer days over three weeks.
"Especially for a child like mine who has trouble staying focused, that's not equal to me," Apker said.
The school system said it hopes to have a plan for session two in place by mid-July.