New York City is doing away with both its traditional form of summer school and the completely virtual programming it offered last year, to provide a free plan for any child in grades K-12 who wants to participate, not just those who have fallen behind over the course of the year.
Summer Rising, the new program, will offer academic classes, social-emotional learning and other enrichment opportunities, like arts opportunities, outdoor recreation and field trips.
The city will partner with the Department of Youth & Community Development to launch the new program. Applications for in-person K-8 programs will open on April 26, and families can sign up through the DYCD website. The Department of Education reported that nearly half of all public school buildings will serve students citywide.
“This summer is pivotal for our school communities, and we have created a summer experience unlike anything we have ever done before to bring our students back stronger than ever. Summer Rising will be a holistic experience that combines the power of strong academic supports, social emotional learning and enrichment programming,” said Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter in a prepared statement.
While polling shows that nationally parents feel favorable about summer schooling, it remains to be seen what kind of response the programming will garner in New York City, where the majority of parents have chosen for their children to continue to learn remotely.
For in-person summer programs, the city said that it plans to follow “rigorous” safety protocols and provide access to testing, nursing support and a telehealth call center, though it did not immediately include whether or how those protocols would be different than those followed during the school year.
The programs are likely to provide relief for parents who have been struggling under stress of remote learning while juggling job responsibilities. Kay Menashe, an Ozone Park parent, who has been homeschooling her 13- and 16-year-old children during the year, said that she was very interested in the program, and was looking into it.
One group of parents who were more apprehensive, on the other hand, were those whose students have disabilities, who say there is a lot of remaining confusion over what summer programming would offer for their children.
“We don’t have the information to make an informed decision for our kids. That’s really where it’s at,” said Jackson Heights parent Heather Dailey, whose 9-year-old student with disabilities requires an eight-to-one student-to-teacher ratio in an academic setting.
“The DOE made an announcement about this amazing revolutionary program for all students this summer, Summer Rising, which will offer a fun summer camp type experience enhanced with academic enrichment to close learning gaps. Articles I have read state it will serve SWD; however when I tried to find out how; i.e., paras, sped certified teachers, related services etc, I could find no information,” she wrote in an email to the Chronicle.
“We will provide additional supports such as paraprofessionals based on each student’s needs. We’ll have more to share after the application opens on April 26th, and enrollment will continue on a rolling basis into the summer so families have plenty of time to register,” responded DOE spokesperson Sarah Casanovas.
For kindergarten and elementary school students, the city will offer a five-day a week program for seven weeks, providing childcare services for families as they return to the workplace.
Students with special needs who have a 12-month individualized education program can participate in a five-day a week program for six weeks.
Middle school students will participate in a four-day a week program for six weeks, and high school students will participate in a five-week program with tailored scheduling to meet their needs.
High schoolers will additionally have the opportunity to engage in the Summer Youth Employment Program and participate in the Public Schools Athletic League. Students in grades 9-12 who have a Course in Progress, or who need to retake a course they failed in a prior term, will participate in academic instruction from July 6 to August 13.
Further details are available at on.nyc.gov/2Q35uy3.