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DENVER (KDVR) — Education is top-of-mind for lawmakers on both sides of the aisles this year.
With many students falling behind due to virtual learning, a big question for a lot of parents and educators alike is: What will districts do about summer school?

Lawmakers and the education community are already looking into it.

Groups centered around education are worried districts will have their hands full trying to catch students up next school year. They are asking the state to take a good look at the summer right now.

“Our educators and building leaders have done a phenomenal job trying to figure this out on their own. You know? They had to learn how to teach remotely, they had to learn to assess even when kids were remote or even missing. They’ve done the best they can,” said Arapahoe County Senator Rhonda Fields. 

Lawmakers are working on a measure that would make sure the Department of Education maintains solutions districts have made when it comes to learning loss.

“There’s going to be some money when we get this stimulus or relief package. One of the recommendations is going to be to create summer schools to help kids. But you know you have to have funding for that. There is going to be grant money available to help provide summer school to help shrink that gap,” Fields said.

While districts in cities in other parts of the nation are looking into mandatory summer schools, stakeholders here are not asking for that. Instead, they are working on finding answers that best fit students.

“There is a chance in summer to do something really different for families and students in Colorado,” said Landon Mascareñaz, Vice President of Colorado Education Initiative Community Partnership. “And it’s not just a school district issue but a community issue. All the players, partners and practitioners in those spots coming together.”

That is why more than 30 education groups penned a letter to the governor and the Department of Education, suggesting other educational facilities be considered as avenues to help lessen the learning gap this summer.

“It may not be in school. It may be in an after school program, it may be in a soccer program, it may be in a learning place, a library, it may be an online class where students are given both credits and economic incentives to be a part of,” said Mascareñaz.

The key word here is creativity. Leaders said in order to get students out of the gap created by the pandemic, it is going to take some out of the box solutions. Fields’ bill mentions innovative ways students can be helped outside the classroom as well, like home visitations.

Westminster Public Schools already announced their students will have the option to extend their school year by 12 more days, Cherry Creek School District said they will offer summer opportunities to families who want them but no mandatory programs. Boulder Valley School District said they are planning on having an eight-week educational opportunity for students who are identified as needing additional supports, but it will not be mandatory.