As Hawaii’s schools prepare to fully reopen in the fall, the pressure is on for educators to bolster kids’ academic and social skills to make up for a disrupted — and truncated — school year that left many students struggling with their studies and mental health.
That means no rest for many public school administrators and teachers who will be offering summer school for free to students for the first time thanks to federal relief dollars aimed at stemming the learning loss and making sure kids are ready to get back to the classroom.
“Over the past few years we have not really had a summer school as most of our teachers have not shown interest in teaching,” said Waipahu Elementary vice principal James Suster. “This year we made a strong push and teachers were interested.”
Last year the DOE also offered summer learning programs, but it expanded the menu of options this year.
“This summer is pretty much all we have before students are expected to show up next fall ready to go at the grade level they’re at without having to hold back massive amounts of kids,” said David Miyashiro, executive director of advocacy group HawaiiKidsCAN. “This is really the last chance to catch kids up.”
In past years, families had to pay for summer school, which was largely used for credit recovery for older students or for other kids who wanted a jump start on the following year. The focus this year shifted toward all vulnerable students and classes are being offered without charge due to the federal aid.
Last month, the Board of Education authorized the department to spend $13.1 million to support summer “learning loss programs” this year, including school learning hubs that support remedial or credit recovery, specialized support for students with disabilities and accelerated learning for kids who want to get ahead.