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Summer’s Here, School’s . . . In
News Bytes 06/10/2021 24 Comments

With her three teenagers vaccinated against COVID-19, Aja Purnell-Mitchell left it up to them to decide whether to go back to school during summer break. The decision was unanimous: summer school. Across the United States, students are heading into classrooms to make up for a year-plus of disrupted—and unmotivating—education.

Under the most recent federal pandemic relief package, the Biden administration is requiring states to devote some of the billions of dollars to summer programs.

And many students are lining up to attend. The U.S. Education Department says it’s too early to know how many will sign up. But most experts believe the number will surpass the estimated three million-plus who went to summer school in 2019.

In Montgomery, Alabama, more than 12,000 students signed up before the June 1 deadline. Typically about 2,500 go to summer school. Philadelphia had enrolled 14,700 by last Friday and was expecting more. That’s up from 9,300 students in last summer’s all-virtual sessions.

“It’s an understatement to say the needs are greater this year,” says Kalman Hettleman, an education policy analyst.

Las Vegas high school freshman Taylor Dennington never thought she would be in summer school. Yet she started this past week—along with plenty of friends—after a year of remote learning.

“This year was such an unmotivating school year,” she says. “It got to the point where I wasn’t doing ANY work. I was just going to class,” Dennington, who is taking biology and math, says. “I learn better in school than online. Being in a classroom where a teacher is present is so much better than waiting hours for an email back from your teacher.”

In North Carolina, Purnell-Mitchell’s children will have access to five or six weeks of full-day programs, including activities like sports or music. Districts also will provide transportation and meals, thanks to the influx of federal funds.

Purnell-Mitchell lists her hopes for the session ahead: “getting them back into it, helping them socialize back with their friends, maybe meet some new people, and, of course, pick up the things that they lacked on Zoom,” she says. It will be the first time her children have been in the classroom since the spring of 2020.

The federal government requires school systems to devote some of the federal funds to address COVID-19’s lopsided effect on certain groups, including those whose first language is not English and students from poor families. The care for these groups is a biblical reminder of Proverbs 19:17 for individuals: “Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and He will reward them for what they have done.” (NIV)

New York City, the nation’s largest school district, with over one million students, is offering summer school to all, not just those falling behind.

Purnell-Mitchell says her children have different reasons for wanting to go to summer school. Kyra, who has autism, missed the one-on-one interaction with teachers that helps her learn. Kyla did well remotely but wasn’t able to make new friends and socialize. Her son, Cartier, says he has had enough time off and was just ready to go back.

“I think it’s going to give them some of the milestone markers that they might have missed and give them a better outlook for going into the doors” in the fall, Purnell-Mitchell says.

“It’s not realistic to think that summer school, no matter how good and intense, will close all the gaps because many of these kids had gaps before the pandemic,” says analyst Hettleman. “But it will help, and it will at least give them a fighting chance.”

In what ways do you agree with the opinions expressed in the article? Will you attend summer school or do any school work over the summer this year? If so, what are your reasons?

(Aja Purnell-Mitchell, second from left, sits with her three children, Cartier, 14, left; Kyra, 15, and Kyla, 13, in Durham, North Carolina, on May 28, 2021. (AP/Gerry Broome)

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Most recent comments

1st comment

That's interesting how many kids want to go to school, because I'm not sure i would.

2nd Comment

Summer school yuck!! Because I am homeschool covid didn't effect me, but I am behind in math and going to do it as much as I can over the summer because I wasn't understanding it and so started a new book that is a lot better but put me a year behind. :( And goodness! Kyra and Kyla!! Why name your two daughters so close!?!?!?!!?!?!? I would get them so mixed up!


One of my friends is doing summer school, but will be done before we go to summer camp together, thankfully! Did anyone else notice the Baby Yoda (or Grogu if you've watched the Mandalorian, which I love)? He is so cute!

@ Riley D

Yeah I'm homeschooled and next week will be our last week of school finally, it kind of sucks that you have to do math all summer though, but yeah I wouldn't go back to school during summer I need the bread in summer from school, cause me and my siblings spend most of our time to side of in the woods, so it would be a bummer to do school all summer. Oh by the way, we found a Pink Lady's Slipper in the woods by a stream, they are pretty rare so that was kind of exciting!

@ Caroline N

Yes I have watched the Mandalorian we love it, and actually we just finished watching it over yesterday!

Sixth Comment

I'm homeschooled too, so COVID let us catch up since out extra-curricular meetings weren't happening. But this year stuff did happen, so even though this is technically the last day of school for me, I still have some things to finish, and I think my mom is having me do math through the entire summer. :(


That is the Grogu Bop It, and my brother got it for his birthday. That was such a great show!!!!!!
I agree with Riley about the similar names, I would get them SO mixed up! Two of my brothers have names that start with J, and I get them mixed up a lot, even though other than the first letter, they aren't that similar. We are also doing math over the summer. I am behind, but mostly because I had to go back and redo Algebra 1 because we changed math curriculums. This reminds me that we should push for school choice.


@Addie: Same I am re-doing Algebra 1 too. I finished school last Friday, so other than math I am good! But Summer seems to be just more work, because there is all the yard work, farm work, and I work more time at my jobs.

For me it's summer's here

For me it's summer's here school's...In and out. We are finishing math and doing a writing program and I have to learn how to diagram for Latin. I do not like diagramming and I have to diagram Latin in the fall.


Some days we do school and other days... we don't.

this is mylee

The baby yoda is so cute XD!!! Yes I've watched the mandolirian. I'm not doing school this summer :) . wooa there names are soo close XD.

@Riley D

We finished school on Friday too! I kind of want a job this summer, but at the same time..... not really. I think it would be cool to work in an antique shop, do y'all? There are a couple of antique shops on the square in the nearest town to my house, and I kind of want to work there.

@ Addie

Oh it would be! Except that it might be dusty and I get sneezing and often itchy around dust.

@ Kiara

That's exactly how it is for us...some days in, some out. We're going on a lot of trips this summer so I think we'll just do what we usually do: what we can, all year round. I don't mind, I get bored without school. I often do math just for fun.

@ Everyone

Also, has anyone ever been to/heard of Falls Creek? It's Christian (Baptist) and the biggest youth camp in the US. It's in Oklahoma. I'm super excited about going in two weeks...they skipped it last year (any guesses why?). If any of y'all are going g the same week or at all, that would be so cool. I think it's likely because thousands of kids go every week in the summer.


Never heard of it. I've heard of Carolina Creek camp though. A bunch of kids in our church went there this week. It's for younger kids. Most of the kids in my youth group are going to Fuge Camp next week. I am not going though. My sister (Piper) and I are going to a different camp. I've heard Fuge is fun.


@KN, I haven't heard of it, I'm going to SkyView in Ohio this year! It will be my first year doing summer camp! I'm so excited!!!!!!!!!!!!! 39 days!

@ Addie

I was supposed to go to fuge this year, but the one my youth group was going to got canceled :(

Has anyone heard of

Has anyone heard of International Kids Conference? Or Internations Youth Confrerence? In Baton Rouge Louisiana? Its a HUGE (Pentecostal) camp and this year they are combining IKC and IYC and having one bug Family Camp! It's like 3 church services a day and then they have one fun day. It's going to wonderful!


Algebra 1 is destroying people worse than covid has

this is Kaewyn

We are homeschooled so covid didn't really affect us. But, i was in 6th grade and finished my 6th math in the middle of the year , so i started 7th grade math. I'm finishing my 7th grade math in the summer and will do PreAlgebra (or 8th grade math) in the fall.

@ Aryelle

No kidding! :D


@Kaewyn, Pre-Algebra is 8th grade math? i'm going into eighth grade, and I just finished Pre-Algebra... Cool!


When you're homeschooled, I don't think you can really prescribe a grade to math! XD Everyone is different! I am in Algebra 2 and I'm going into "10th grade" this year. I say "10th grade" because I am ACTUALLY in the sixth form this year.

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