SAN DIEGO — With summer just around the corner, districts countywide are making plans to expand summer school programs to make up for what kids lost during the pandemic.
Traditionally, summer school is focused on academics, and offered to struggling students. However, this year, using federal aid money, districts like San Diego Unified are giving all students the opportunity to attend what’s being described as summer camps, mixing in learning with fun.
Parent Jennifer Sumber is signing her nine-year-old daughter up for summer school, saying like many students, she too experienced some academic losses during the pandemic.
“And not only will she catch up, but hopefully she'll go ahead. So by the time she reaches 4th grade, she'll be the person raising her hand going I know this answer," said Sumber.
She'll also get to see her friends, and take part in field trips and other activities she and thousands of other kids missed out on this past year.
San Diego Unified just announced a free program called Level Up SD: a summer of learning and joy.
Together with the San Diego Foundation, they're offering all K through 12 students the chance to come to select campuses five days a week, with mornings focused on academics, and afternoons dedicated to extracurriculars they select.
San Diego Unified School Board President Richard Barrera gave some examples, saying:
“Summer camps at the Y, you know swimming programs, art and music programs, theater programs.”
Younger kids will be offered four week sessions. For high schoolers, it will be three. Transportation options will be provided to those who need it. It's costing the district about $22 million, all of which is funded through federal aid money.
Over at the Cajon Valley Union Elementary School District, a similar program called Camp Cajon is being offered as well.
"We're using community resources like Park and Rec, local dance clubs, soccer clubs so students will be having really fun engaging lessons with teachers in class, and then during their day at Camp Cajon, they're also outside having lots of enrichment and recreation," according to Assistant superintendent Karen Minshew.
Free childcare will be provided before and after.
In the past week alone, 2,000 families have signed up.
“We had an advisory meeting and a lot of our parents said we want the experiences our students missed out on," said Minshew.
Poway Unified School District officials have said they too are expanding their summer school program.
Over the coming weeks, expect to hear updates from your child’s district about what their plans are as well.