This Year’s National Summer Learning Week Celebrates a Wide Variety of Opportunities Still Available to Kids Across America
Posted: July 08, 2020 | Author: Wallace editorial team
Every year, millions of kids—and, let’s face it, many adults too—look forward to the start of summer. But Summer 2020 is shaping up to be like no other. With summer vacations canceled, camps on hold and schools unsure about whether and how they will reopen, we’re facing a new set of questions, challenges and opportunities.
As we kick off Summer Learning Week, we had the chance to connect via email with Aaron Dworkin, CEO of the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA), a nonprofit organization that has been solely focused on harnessing summer as a time of learning, to see how they are approaching this unprecedented summer. For more in depth information about NSLA and summer learning, see our interview with Dworkin when he came onboard with the organization last year.
Let’s start with the big question: How will summer be different this year?
The COVID-19 pandemic threatens to worsen the already existing opportunity gap between children from rich and poor families. It has illuminated the nation’s inequities in our school systems and communities like never before, shining a spotlight on the significant digital divide, food insecurities, childcare issues and learning losses millions of underserved students and their families face every summer. And the combination of COVID-19-related learning loss combined with the usual summer slide may have a ripple effect for years to come. Nonprofit organization NWEA, which specializes in student assessments, predicts significant learning loss from COVID school closures, especially in math. Their findings project that “students may return in fall 2020 with roughly 70 percent of the learning gains in reading relative to a typical school year, less than 50 percent of the learning gains in math, and in some grades, nearly a full year behind what we would observe in normal conditions.”
This means that summer learning programming will be more important than ever in 2020. Across the country, summer programs are adapting and innovating to ensure children and their families can access quality summer learning opportunities and critical supports, exploring safe ways to reopen, developing virtual and at-home learning experiences that families can do together and securing funding and policy support to expand summer meal programs in communities experiencing an increase in food insecurity due to job losses and school closures.
Parents, educators, summer learning advocates, business leaders and policymakers each play a critical role to save and expand summer learning opportunities in communities across the country this summer.