As more and more people step back out into the post-vaccine streets, one would wonder if there were any skepticism surrounding the city’s plan for summer school.
With the program beginning next week, all parties state they are OK with it.
Announced back in April, the plan, named “Summer Rising,” is a collaboration with the Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) where the city presents an open invitation for free summer school available to any student in any grade (K through 12). The initiative will be one part academics, one part culture and one part creation.
The city also said Summer Rising will not affect the Summer Youth Employment Program.
“Our kids have been through so much, and they need our support as we build a recovery for all of us,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio during an April news conference. “This is a free program for all New York City students, combining academics and cultural enrichment for the best summer yet.”
Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter added, “Through this innovative partnership with DYCD and our trusted community partners, and thanks to our heroic principals, teachers and staff, we’ll be able to serve any New York City student who wants to attend in-person so they can receive the comprehensive supports they need during this critical time.”
But what role does COVID play in all of this?
When the AmNews contacted the Department of Education (DOE) this week to ask about COVID’s role in running the program, officials said that there will be mandatory random testing of staff and students schools once every other week and, according to the city, the programs will follow rigorous health and safety protocols. The city will implement social distancing and mask wearing, and every participant will have access to nursing support and a telehealth center.
“Our schools were among the safest places to be in New York City this year due to our rigorous health and safety protocols,” stated DOE spokesperson Sarah Casasnovas. “All Summer Rising programs will continue to follow guidance from public health experts regarding random testing, mask wearing, and social distancing, and we look forward to welcoming thousands of families across the city to programs next week.”
When asked about the union’s approval of the plan, a United Federation of Teachers spokesperson stated, “Distancing and masks will continue, as will testing, though on a somewhat reduced schedule.”
But there have been some setbacks.
Advocates for Children, a group that pushes the city to make schools accessible for those with disabilities, pointed out the lack of transportation available for those students.
The city responded in kind. DOE spokesperson Danielle Filson announced on Twitter that the city will provide summer school taxis for homeless students and those with disabilities.
“Happy to share that we will be offering reimbursement for these travel expenses (such as car service, taxi),” Filson tweeted.
The mayor assured city residents that everyone will be taken care of with Summer Rising.
“Summer Rising is for everyone and it’s an opportunity for kids to have a safe, positive summer with learning, culture, recreation for free,” said de Blasio last week. “We wanted this to be something unlike anything you’ve seen before, and it’s going to be the permanent model going forward. Of course, we want kids with disabilities to be able to participate. So, please get us information. We’ll work to resolve those specific cases, but no, the goal here is to give every parent a positive option.”
The mayor assured the media, and the public, that there’s nothing to worry about.