How Educators Are Approaching Summer Learning This Year

April 27, 2021 • Filed under News

By Andrew Ujifusa, Education Week

The challenge of striking a balance between academics and other educational activities during the summer is more relevant than ever after the exhausting and disruptive year students have been through.

Melanie Claxton believes there’s a simple but transformative step school leaders can take: Ask the students themselves what they’d like to do. In the process you’ll also find out what they think they need.

For Claxton, the coordinator of out-of-school-time activities for the Pittsburgh school district, that process involves work not typically associated with remedial studies in sweltering July classrooms, like putting together focus groups of students to inform what their days look like, and what partnerships with outside groups look like.

In the American Rescue Plan, the COVID-19 relief package signed by President Joe Biden in March, Congress set aside 1 percent of more than $122 billion in K-12 education funding for states to support summer enrichment programs.

But in crafting those programs, there’s a question of balance that extends beyond the students. After more than a year of stress and isolation, adults probably won’t want to be stuck inside in a traditional school settings any more than children, said Aaron Dworkin, the CEO of the National Summer Learning Association. That’s underscored by the distinct possibility that social distancing and other COVID-19 mitigation strategies might persist into the warmer months.