New Hampshire’s Department of Education is offering parents in the Londonderry School District a new option to help students recover lost ground caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Londonderry is joining four other districts – Bow, Dunbarton, Fremont, and Haverhill – in the Recovering Bright Futures Program. The program is a two-year grant-funded option for students to join stress and anxiety-reducing Learning Pods.
“It’s a way to find what kids need, and then meet those needs in a new way,” said Amy Finamore, the interim school board chair in Londonderry.
More than a year of remote learning and in-person classes that included facemasks and social distancing has left a lot of students in the Granite State suffering a learning loss. The Learning Pods involve small, in-person, multi-age groupings of students in a trauma-sensitive environment that allow children to stabilize, rekindle curiosity, and accelerate learning.
“It’s for students who might need a little more one-on-one time because they experienced learning loss because of the pandemic,” Finamore said. “It’s good for a wide variety of students who want to stay connected to the public school system, but need a different learning environment.”
The New Hampshire Department of Education is partnering with Arizona-based company, Prenda, to operate the Learning Pods in the five school districts. The pods will consist of five to 10 students in groupings of kindergarten through second grade, third grade through fifth grade, and sixth through eighth grade.
Frank Edelblut, commissioner of the Department of Education, said Learning Pod models like Prenda’s have successfully helped students throughout the country.
“Learning Pods may be new to many, but throughout the pandemic and across the country, they have served over one million students in small-group, multi-age, and trauma-sensitive learning environments,” Edelblut said. “Learning Pods are particularly helpful to students who have experienced learning loss and will thrive with more individualized attention.”
The funding for the program comes from the American Recovery Act aimed at helping the American people recover from more than a year of COVID-19 pandemic living. Edelblut has said that the program won’t impact school district funding. The $6 million contract with Prenda will pay for the district’s fees and the participating schools can still receive adequacy aid from the state.
Prenda instructors will work with district teachers to make sure students in the pods are receiving a comparable education. Finamore said the students getting the Prenda education will follow all of the same standards as students in public school, and they will also take the same state assessment tests.
The Learning Pods program is another option the DOE has given parents and students. The Education Freedom Account program launched this year allows parents to use grants to pay for private school tuition, education therapy, or even a homeschool curriculum if the family thinks that is in the best interest of their child.
The state also continues to add programs to the Learn Everywhere program, which allows students to get academic credit for approved extracurricular programs. Approved programs so far include subjects like robotics, marine biology, and music.
More information about the Learning Pods program can be found at https://prendaschool.com/new-hampshire