File photo: Denise Civiletti

The Riverhead Central School District is using federal COVID relief funds to launch new programs in the summer and during the next school year to help students whose academic progress was halted during the coronavirus pandemic.

The district is using the $18 million provided by coronavirus relief, including $12.7 million from the American Rescue Plan that runs until September 2024, to fund mainly non-recurring expenses. The district is prioritizing providing social and emotional support for students, growing and developing their teaching staff, and purchasing and providing insurance for teaching materials and devices, interim Superintendent Christine Tona said during the school board meeting Tuesday.

The district is seeking input from the local community through a survey that asks what the district should prioritize when planning how to use the funds for subsequent school years. The survey will close on Monday, June 21.

The high school will continue a credit recovery program to help students who are falling behind on courses both online this summer and after school in the fall, Tona said. They are also planning an “alternative high school” for students who are better taught with “non-traditional” learning methods.

Tona said that the middle school will get increased academic support during the summer and the next school year. Tona did not mention any specific programs.

For the grades K-6, the district is providing summer programs free for district residents through SCOPE at Roanoke Avenue Elementary School from July 6 to July 30. Programs include those in art, drama, STEAM, science, coding, reading, sports and fitness. More information can be found on a flyer on the school website. 

The district is also looking for students interested in robotics to participate in Snappy XO, a program in partnership with Stony Brook University.

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Alek Lewis is a lifelong Riverhead resident and a 2021 graduate of Stony Brook University’s School of Communication and Journalism. Previously, he served as news editor of Stony Brook’s student newspaper, The Statesman, and was a member of the campus’s chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.