October 2, 2023

How K–12 Schools Are Doing Summer School Virtually

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The school year has come to an end, but many districts are still continuing remote learning this summer.

In Seattle Public Schools, all students will have access to online courses so they can stay engaged in learning before the fall. The virtual summer program they offer covers a range of subjects from math and language arts to social-emotional learning.

“It was important in our planning that all students have learning opportunities, so we can provide needed consistency and predictability,” Superintendent Denise Juneau tells KOMO News.

Traditionally, summer schools give districts the opportunity to help students catch up or get ahead in their schoolwork. But the coronavirus pandemic showed how crucial these programs are today as experts predict steep learning losses due to last spring’s mandatory school closures. It also changed how districts conduct summer school programs this year, offering a glimpse of what they might look like in the future.

DISCOVER: Learn how districts continue remote learning for students without internet.

Summer School in the Era of COVID-19

With social distancing guidelines still in place, many districts adopted alternative methods, such as full-on digital classes, to best accommodate students taking summer school.

According to a recent EdWeek Research Center survey of 446 district leaders, 79 percent said they are providing summer learning only online. Of those surveyed, 51 percent said they are requiring summer school only for students who are behind academically.

Yet experts from The Center for Reinventing Public Education (CRPE), a nonpartisan education research center, say that this summer is still a missed opportunity for many districts. They recently conducted a survey that found most districts are taking a traditional approach to summer school rather than innovating.

Districts had the chance to “implement different, better learning environments this summer in preparation for the fall, or to address the impact of critical learning time students may have lost in the spring,” the researchers tell EdSource.

Some districts decided to limit summer school programs to students who need them most, such as students from low-income families or those who have individualized education plans that require year-round services. Meanwhile, other districts are unable to continue programming because of budget constraints and remaining health concerns.