covid-19 and schools

School Districts Fighting the Covid Slide With Intensive Summer Camps

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With tens of thousands of students falling behind academically, Miami-Dade County Public Schools and Broward County Public Schools will each offer intensive, five-week long summer school programs for all grade levels.

In Miami-Dade, they’re planning on using a mixture of school campuses and summer camps, infusing academics into camps run by the Children’s Trust.

In Broward, the district is using 95 school campuses. 30,000 kids have already signed up, and the district is pushing for more. 

Take the case of Jordan Gordon, a kindergarten student. His mom is a reading coach at Harbordale Elementary School, and even with that advantage, she’s sending him to summer school. 

“I really saw a big gap between what he’s expected to know and what he knows, both academically and socially-emotionally, and so when we got this opportunity to send kids to summer school and continue the learning, continue the socialization, there’s going to be enrichment, academics, we jumped at the opportunity to send him,” said Lauren Gordon, Jordan’s mom. 

“A large number of students have been home the whole year, we haven’t had a normal school year since March of 2020, it is time to get back to learning,” said Dan Gohl, Chief Academic Officer for Broward Schools.

Gohl says his district’s intense summer school program will be the largest in its history, and it’s needed to get thousands of students ready for the next grade level, K-12. The Covid slide is real.

“Some students have seemed to do well, but we’ve got about 40% of our students who we’re terribly concerned about,” Gohl said. “Based on the assessments we’ve been able to give, we’re seeing them either regress some or more importantly, not make the kinds of gains they’re going to need.”

“We have a lot of kids who haven’t been in school for what, a year and a half?” said Sylvia Diaz, Chief Academic Officer of Miami-Dade Schools.

Diaz points out that every school district in the nation is facing similar learning gaps, and extensive summer programming is the way to overcome them. 

“We’re trying to welcome kids back in an environment that’s not pressured, that’s gonna help them with those foundational skills, they’re gonna have fun, they’re gonna socialize,” Diaz said. “It should help them get ready for going back to school so there’s not so much anxiety about that start of school in August.”

In Miami-Dade Schools, recent data showed 43% of K-3 students were not reading at grade level, and 54% were behind in math. 

Lauren Gordon has seen learning gaps at home and at school, and encourages parents to give summer school a try this year.

“Even if they just go for part of it, I think anything is better than nothing at this point,” Gordon said. 

The summer programs are free. Go to your district’s website for information on how to sign up. 

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