Can Summer School Help Kids After the Pandemic?

Can Summer School Help Kids After the Pandemic?

GREENSBORO, N.C. — In second grade, Zion Graham bounded to school. He loved math. His favorite book was about a slow turtle who took all day to get dressed.

Then came the pandemic, and months of joyless remote learning. Zion lost confidence in reading. His performance in third grade plummeted.

Zion, now 8, is spending his summer racing to catch up, back at Hunter Elementary School in Greensboro, N.C. When Zion and his schoolmates arrive by 7:45 a.m. each morning, they face a challenge — and a deadline. How much can they learn before fourth grade starts, to avoid falling even further behind?

Around the country, children are attending summer school like never before, as the United States pushes billions of dollars into education to help children recover from the pandemic. The Biden administration has identified summer learning as one key strategy, allocating at least $1.2 billion in federal stimulus money for it. From San Diego to New York City to Miami, hundreds of thousands of children are attending programs this year, some for the first time. In Guilford County, N.C., the school district that includes Greensboro, summer school enrollment has skyrocketed to 12,000, from 1,200 two years ago.

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