In an effort to help students who have fallen behind as a result of distance learning, Esko school officials and staff plan to implement tutoring sessions for both high school and elementary students starting Tuesday, Feb. 16.

The school board unanimously approved the sessions in a meeting held Monday, Feb. 8 following a recommendation from superintendent Aaron Fischer.

The idea came after teachers spent time with select high school students last month in an effort to help them with the work they missed during distance learning before bringing them back to a hybrid model Jan. 25.

High school principal Greg Hexum said Esko saw a major change in the students’ work after just four days in the focus sessions.

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The new tutoring sessions will follow a structure similar to that of the January sessions, but will run for a longer time period, with the elementary session lasting four weeks and the high school session running until May 28.

The high school sessions will use different intervention methods to focus heavily on students in grades 7-12 with incomplete credits from fall semester and seniors in need of additional support, Hexum said.

As of now, all 93 seniors are on track for graduation, but there are 32 students in the high school who need to recover credits from fall, he said.

“I feel really grateful for our seniors,” Hexum said.

Elementary principal Brian Harker said the elementary sessions will focus on student needs on a subject-by-subject basis, starting first with language arts, most likely followed by math.

Approximately 10 students from each grade level will be invited to participate in the after-school program.

According to Fischer, teachers have already volunteered to work outside of school hours helping the students. He called them “great partners” in the effort and hopes the new program will help lessen summer session hours.

“I’m really, really proud of our staff,” Hexum said, with Harker adding that the power is in the teachers running the show.

Fischer hopes to receive additional COVID-19 funding in the near future and put it towards the tutoring program. However, he said the district will find the money regardless of whether the funding comes through.

District officials plan to reach out to individual families and will look into providing transportation for students who participate in the program as needed, he said.