US Education Department Launches Summer Program For Education Recovery After the Pandemic

The US Department of Education has launched the Summer Learning & Enrichment Collaborative platform, which will, among others, provide financial support to students across the country as part of American Rescue Plan relief.

According to a press release issued by the Education Department, the platform aims to financially support as many students as possible from 46 states, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, the Bureau of Indian Education, and three other territories willing to help students through educational summer programs.

The collaboration follows President Joe Biden’s call to action at the National Safe School Reopening Summit. He urged organizations to work together to offer access to education for all children, Erudera.com reports.

“This is essential for all students, particularly those disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, students of color, English learners, students with disabilities, homeless students, and all those who went without in-person instruction this year,” President Biden said.

The partnership between the Education Department, the National Governors Association, and other national partners aims to provide evidence-based programs which deal with the lost time that students have experienced during the past academic year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, the program presents an alternative to accelerate learning and promotes the safe engagement of students in fun activities.

“Let’s use this moment to reimagine what fun, engaging summer programming can look like, make it accessible for all students, and work together to make sure our communities recover and rebuild stronger than they were before the pandemic,” Cardona further added.

The American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) offers a nearly $122 billion fund for states and schools to overcome the pandemic effects and requires states to invest over $1 billion in evidence-based summer programs.

In the upcoming days, the Collaborative program will present the virtual kick-off, which intends to take a national approach and facilitate regional and local partnerships to implement states and districts’ plans.

The kick-off speakers will include:

  1. Secretary Miguel Cardona,
  2. Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker,
  3. Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson,
  4. Illinois State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carmen Ayala,
  5. Arkansas Secretary of Education Johnny Key,
  6. Education Trust Interim CEO Denise Forte,
  7. National Summer Learning Association CEO Aaron Dworkin, and
  8. Founder of the Harlem Children’s Zone Geoffrey Canada

The program’s activities aim to accelerate learning for youth development in physical fitness, arts programs, science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) activities, and career and technical education (CTE) programs.

Furthermore, the collaborative program offers support for other categories, including students with disabilities, English learners, students from low-income backgrounds, and students experiencing homelessness. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has published a guideline customized for the summer program, prioritizing health and safety during the program for all participants to be protected against the COVID-19 virus.

Organizations participating in The Collaborative’s convening include:

  • AASA, The School Superintendents Association
  • American Camp Association
  • American Federation of Teachers
  • Boys & Girls Clubs of America
  • Charles Stewart Mott Foundation
  • Council of Chief State School Officers
  • Council of the Great City Schools
  • National Association of Elementary School Principals
  • National Association of Secondary School Principals
  • National Education Association
  • National Governors Association
  • National League of Cities
  • National Rural Education Association
  • National Summer Learning Association
  • National Youth Employment Coalition
  • Nebraska Children and Families Foundation
  • RAND Corporation
  • StriveTogether
  • The Afterschool Alliance
  • The Education Trust
  • The National Comprehensive Center
  • Wallace Foundation

Part of Biden’s plans is also the cancellation of students’ loans which lies in three main pillars. The three categories where the loan cancellation is expected to take place include students who were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, low-income borrowers holding high student loan debt as well as public service loan cancellation.

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