For some students, school’s in for summer

Published 11:08 am Friday, June 25, 2021

This summer will be crucial for catching up students who have fallen behind due to the pandemic and school closures, experts say. Districts are bolstering their summer learning offerings, and the federal government has given more than a billion dollars to help them do so.
In the past, summer school has mostly meant remedial work for students who have failed a class or lack the required credits to graduate from high school. But now, school districts are using their summer programming to help make up for lost instructional time. Many are targeting young learners who struggled to master reading during remote instruction, as well as students who are at key transition points in their schooling and those from low-income families.
To combat summer learning loss in Tennessee and to support learning at home, some 500,000 books are being delivered to teachers and students statewide. The books will be delivered to rising first-grade through third-grade students and teachers across the state as part of the Governor’s Early Literacy Program.
Research shows that two to three months of proficiency is lost for students who do not read over the summer, but reading four to six books has the potential to stop, mitigate or reverse this “summer slide.”
Earlier this year, the Tennessee Dept. of Education shared data that third-grade reading proficiency is expected to drop by more than 50 percent as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic preventing in-person learning at school.
Even though most students in Elizabethton and Carter County have been learning on campus for much of the school year, some of them are still making for the learning they lost when schools initially shut down in spring 2020 and abbreviated weeks of in-house learning. And many of the youngest elementary students who stayed online for some or all of the school years are behind in reading.
Elizabethton City Schools this summer have offered two four-week summer learning programs for rising first through fifth graders, and sixth, seventh, and eighth-graders. The primary focus has been on developing students’ foundational skills with a focus on math and reading.
Carter County schools also have a summer program for students.
School systems and parents owe it to our kids to do everything within their power to address this once-in-a-generation crisis.
Summer school has also provided opportunities for students to be together again and practice social and emotional skills that engage the mind and body. 
While our schools have done a great job of making remote education as impactful as possible, the need for peer interactions and social connections has remained unfulfilled. Summer school has helped fill that void.
Soon, the summer will end, and schools will re-open for a new year. Until then, we need to work to make sure our kids are ready for the new school year and that means using all the resources available to them.