To serve low-income and minority students, Academy Prep opens Lakeland campus

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School closures due to coronavirus has hit low-income and minority students particularly hard. To address the problem, Academy Prep opened its Lakeland campus to students for its three-week summer session. has more.

As coronavirus spread through the state, Florida schools closed their doors in March and moved classes online.

NWEA, a nonprofit that assesses student achievement, says the closures mean students will return to school this fall with roughly 70% of the learning gains in reading relative to a typical year. For math, they will return with less than 50% of the typical learning gain.

The learning losses will likely be even worse for low-income students, who often don’t have access to computers, the internet or adult supervision.

Academy Prep is a not-for-profit private school with campuses in Lakeland, Tampa and St. Petersburg that offers a free education to low-income middle-schoolers.

Concerned about students falling behind, the school opened its Lakeland campus on June 8 for a three-week summer session.

Lincoln Tamayo is Academy Prep’s Head of School.

“Seeing how much traction our kids had lost over the last three months, another month of this, I think would have done even more damage,” he said.

A strict regimen of temperature checks and staying six-feet apart keeps faculty, staff and students safe. To date, there has been no sign of COVID-19 at the school.

“In Lakeland’s situation with the square footage of our campus, our classroom, our indoor settings and also the relatively small enrollment number, we have the capacity to be able to run a program that follows the safe distancing guidelines of the CDC.”

Academy Prep’s Tampa and St. Petersburg campuses, with more students and less space, are offering virtual classes. Plans call for a hybrid approach in the fall. Lakeland will continue to offer in-person classes.

“I’ve got to tell you to a person, they have been chomping at the bit to get back on campus, to be with each other, to be with us in community. It’s an incredibly good feeling,” Tamayo said.

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