The decision was unanimous: summer school.
“Get them to do it again, help them socialize with their friends, maybe meet new people, and of course learn what was missing from Zoom,” said the Durham County, NC mother. look forward to the upcoming session, which will be the first time her children have been in the classroom since the outbreak occurred in spring 2020.
Across the US, more children than ever could be in classrooms for summer school this year to make up for the learning lost during the outbreak, which caused monumental disruptions to education. School districts across the country are expanding their summer programs and offering bonuses for teachers to participate.
Under the most recent federal pandemic aid package, the Biden administration requires states to dedicate some of the billions of dollars to summer programs.
The US Department of Education said it is too early to know how many students will enroll, but the number will almost certainly exceed the estimated 3.3 million who attended mandatory or optional summer school in 2019, before the pandemic.
In Montgomery, Alabama, for example, more than 12,000 of the 28,000 students in the school system were enrolled before the June 1 deadline. Usually about 2,500 go to summer school. Philadelphia had enrolled 14,700 by Friday and expected more for mostly in-person programs, compared to 9,300 students in fully virtual sessions last summer.
“It’s an understatement to say the needs are greater this year,” said Kalman Hettleman, an educational policy analyst in Maryland.
Hettleman cares more about the reading skills of underprivileged younger students who were falling behind even before Covid-19 closed schools and likely to encounter technological hurdles afterward.
“It is unrealistic to think that summer school, no matter how good and intense it is, will close all the gaps because many of these children had gaps before the pandemic,” said Hettleman, who wants the sessions to be mandatory for students from poor performance in Baltimore. . “But it will help, and at least give them a chance to fight back if there are intense interventions during the regular school year.”
Las Vegas high school freshman Taylor Dennington never thought she would be in summer school, but there she was starting last week, along with many friends, after a year of remote learning.
“This year was such a demotivating school year,” he said.
“It got to the point where I wasn’t doing ANY work, I was just going to class,” Dennington, who is taking biology and math, said in a text exchange. “I learn better in school than online. Being in a classroom where a teacher is present is much better than waiting hours for an email from your teacher.”
In North Carolina, Purnell-Mitchell children will have access to five to six weeks of full-day programs that include academic activities and activities such as sports or music. The districts will also provide transportation and meals, thanks to the influx of federal spending.
Under a unanimously passed North Carolina law, nearly 1 in 4 students deemed to be in danger of falling behind (about 200,000 students statewide) have priority for summer school, with additional spaces open for others who want them. Some districts are inviting all of their students.
School systems must dedicate part of federal funds to address the disproportionate effect of Covid-19 on students from poor families, those whose first language is not English, members of minority groups, and those who are homeless or in foster homes.
Expanded programs across the country have vastly increased the need for not only teachers, but also bus drivers, custodians, and cafeteria employees.
Some North Carolina teachers will receive a $ 1,200 bonus. There are also bonuses for teachers in certain grades whose students show improvement in reading and math.
Elsewhere, a district in Anderson, South Carolina, has nearly doubled teacher salaries in summer school to $ 60 an hour. Spring Branch, Texas teachers and nurses receive raises of up to 20%. In Mississippi, the Starkville Oktibbeha school system increased hourly wages for teachers by $ 10 to $ 35 over the summer.
Connecticut promises scholarships of $ 4,500 for 500 college students working in summer K-12 programs.
New York City, the nation’s largest school district with more than 1 million youth, offers summer school to all students, not just those left behind.
“Our children have been through a lot,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio when announcing the plans, “and they need our support as we build a recovery for all of us.”
Philadelphia and San Diego are among others to announce district-wide eligibility. Chicago plans to greatly expand its programs.
Purnell-Mitchell said her children had different reasons for wanting to go to school this summer. Her oldest daughter, Kyra Mitchell, who has autism, missed the personal interaction with teachers that helps her learn, while Kyla Mitchell did well remotely but was unable to make new friends and socialize. His son, Cartier Mitchell, said he had had plenty of free time and was ready to return.
“I think it will give them some of the milestones they might have missed and give them a better perspective to walk through the gates” in the fall, Purnell-MItchell said, “instead of feeling like they’ve lost a year and a half of knowing. what they are doing “.