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Six Collier County teachers got the surprise of a lifetime Tuesday as Champions For Learning handed out shiny Golden Apples, which are viewed like Oscars for educators. Wochit

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With summer's arrival, Collier schools are reaching students through virtual summer school, camps and reading programs.  

Collier students, like others throughout the country, started learning from home in March due to the coronavirus pandemic. Many students adjusted to a virtual learning model, which continues for certain programs this summer.  

Summer school sessions vary by program and student needs, Peggy Aune, associate superintendent of teaching and learning, said. 

Some programs will be offered on campus, including one for rising third- and fourth-grade students with learning gaps in reading.

Starting July 6, Collier's Jump Start 2020, will have those elementary school students within the lowest 25% in reading skills come to school campuses for live instruction. 

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The participating schools, Big Cypress Elementary, Eden Park Elementary, Mike Davis Elementary and Shadowlawn Elementary, will host students from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

Teachers will be wearing face masks and shields while students are recommended to wear masks of their own. The district is keeping the student-to-teacher ratio low to maintain social distancing, according to a letter sent to parents.

There is a capacity of up to 1,200 for Jump Start 2020 across the four campuses, according to the district. 

The schools will offer transportation as needed and two meals, breakfast and lunch, up until its last day on July 30.

Students with disabilities who qualify for Extended School Year, which is determined by their IEPs, or individualized education programs, are also participating. 

VPK, or voluntary prekindergarten, is also in-person at Shadowlawn Elementary starting this week through July 23. There are still spots available for summer VPK, according to the district.

Summer programs 

Course and credit recovery classes for rising seventh- through 12th-grade students, who received a D or lower in a class, are underway.

Students in credit recovery classes are completing course work online in addition to weekly virtual meetings with their teachers until the program's completion on July 16. 

"In addition to their virtual course work, they will have some real, direct interaction where their teacher is checking in," Aune said.

Gear Up for Next School Year — an optional program for K-8 students to work independently on non-graded assignments  — offers students time to avoid "summer slide."

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High school students can participate in English and language arts and mathematics courses as part of the program, Aune said.

The program delivered through Canvas, the district's learning management system, offers up to three hours of activities each week.

More than 4,000 students have registered to participate, according to a presentation at the school board's June 9 meeting.

More than 15,000 district mobile devices, including laptops, iPads and internet hotspots, have been distributed to students for online learning during the school year, according to the district.

Students were allowed to keep the district devices for summer programs.

But the school district is requesting laptop devices used for summer programs be returned by the week of July 20, Aune said.

Aune said the district needs time to "get them ready to be reissued" ahead of Collier's first day of school Aug. 12.

Virtual camp

Collier's STEAM Camp brings together remotely via Microsoft Teams teachers and rising fifth-graders invited from Title I elementary schools. 

Teachers are "counselors" as students work on different challenges from coding to building a world in Minecraft, a sandbox video game. 

The STEAM — Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics — Camp finishes July 9.

Every summer, Collier schools has an elementary school reading camp. This year the camp for rising third- and fourth-graders is virtual, Aune said.

"This is for students at the elementary level that, as we look at data and progress monitoring, maybe need some additional supports in reading,"  Aune said. 

The camp, which ends July 2, combines teachers' live interaction with students and independent activities, Aune said.

Other reading programs are finding ways to connect despite COVID-19.

Collier Kids Read has virtual storytime every weekday at 10 a.m while Collier County's Public Library summer reading program has started and runs until Aug. 15.

School programs are not the only summer staple that's up and running; student athletes have resumed workouts in Collier.

Athletic workouts resume: Collier County public high schools to resume athletic workouts 

Collier's food distribution program is also continuing to give out meals this summer through Summer BreakSpot, which is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Summer Food Service Program.

The district's meal distribution sites are open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday with weekend meals being offered on Fridays. Everglades City School's hours differ slightly. 

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Collier schools has not yet announced its full plans for the 2020-21 school year, but Aune said the district wants students to be comfortable with e-learning models no matter what's decided.

"We want to ensure that all students regardless are feeling confident in continuing to practice those skill sets," Aune said. 

Rachel Fradette is an education reporter for the Naples Daily News. Follow her on Twitter: @Rachel_Fradette, email her at rfradette@gannett.com.

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