Summer School will be a defining part of K-12 Education This Year

After the strangest school year in modern history, large districts like LAUSD and San Diego Unified are offering summer school to all students. The latest numbers show plenty of families are taking advantage. 22,000 of 98,000 San Diego students have enrolled for summer compared to less than 3,000 the previous school year, according to instructional support officer Nicole DeWitt. LAUSD is also seeing record enrollment.

Oakland Unified wasn’t able to offer summer school for all, but its expanded learning options have also drawn a crowd. Warner Unified in San Diego County is offering summer school for the first time in years, according to CalMatters

School officials and education advocates caution that summer school won’t fix all or even most of the problems. Finding staffing for summer programs was hard and teacher burnout is a real concern. LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner favored an extended school year over summer school for that reason.

“This is the first time people can be outside. People do need a break,” he said.

Schools are working with an additional $4.6 billion in state funding for summer school, tutoring, and mental health services. According to Governor’s Office, nearly all school districts are offering summer programs of some kind thanks to the infusion.

What will summer school look like? Expect some academics woven in with a lot of hands-on activities and social emotional learning.

“Although school districts are still offering academic programs, summer school this year is supposed to be fun,” writes Diana Lambert in EdSource. “Experts say schools won’t be able to combat learning loss until they deal with the social and emotional needs of children who have been away from their peers and teachers for more than a year and may have experienced other trauma during the pandemic.”