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Some CMS teachers questioning if they will return to classrooms after difficult year, teacher advocacy group said

A difficult year for students proved to be too much for some educators.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Tuesday night, the Charlotte Mecklenburg School district gave an update on Camp CMS. The district previously announced they identified roughly 65,000 students they considered to be at risk of failing before the school year ended, roughly 21,000 signed up for the camp, and less than 13,000 of them showed up for the first week of the program. 

As of July 12, the district says 30,972 students are enrolled in the program, and 19,956 of those students were deemed at-risk. CMS says 26,210 students have attended at least one day of CMS -- on average, about 15,784 students were in attendance the third week of the first session. Of those students, 10,092 were deemed at-risk. 

Registration is currently closed with the exception of 3rd graders who have not met reading benchmarks, students who are new to CMS, and future-enrolled students.

During the second week of the camp, CMS officials said they were trying to get in contact with families who signed up to encourage them to bring their students because they know there was a learning loss. Officials believe the more they're able to catch students up during the summer, the smoother things will go in the classroom for teachers in the fall.

To say last year was difficult for teachers may be an understatement.

Judy Henion, the president of the Classroom Teachers Association of North Carolina said she's heard it all.

“The same horror stories you’ve probably heard," Henion said.

Despite teachers’ best efforts battling spotty internet connections, zoom distractions, and technology failures, CMS parents like Shyla Copeland said it wasn’t easy for their little ones to keep up.

“He just started first grade when the pandemic happened, so him going from a classroom setting to a home setting where he can be laid back he feels like he doesn’t have to work as hard," Copeland said. "That really affected his motivation to do his school work.”

Teachers will now be responsible for catching students up, and Henion said they’ve noticed some are just calling it quits - from teachers with experience to teachers with fresh talent.

"There's the baby boomers that can retire rather than return," Henion said. "Younger teachers haven’t been in the profession long enough to be vested, and they have opportunities to come to Charlotte and they're able to leave the profession and make more money and they don’t have near the stress and anxiety that’s created.”

For the 2021-22 school year the US Department of Education reports a teacher shortage in the areas of math and special education for all grades K-12 and shortages in all core subjects for grades K-5 across the Tarheel state. 

While CMS believes they’ll have enough educators, there is still the challenge of getting those tens of thousands of at-risk students back up to speed. CMS hopes Camp CMS will help make a dent in the number before the fall semester, but Henion said teachers won’t know what they’re dealing with until that back-to-school bell rings.

“You can’t accomplish that much in that short a time frame, and so it’s a wait and see," Henion said.

Camp CMS ends July 29.

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