Florida Times-Union | By Emily Bloch | June 17, 2021
Thanks to new emergency relief funding and loosened coronavirus restrictions in Duval County Public Schools, thousands of young people in Jacksonville will participate in some shape or form of summer programs.
June marks the beginning of Duval Schools’ summer programs and according to Superintendent Diana Greene, there will be over 20,000 student participants.
“That number tells us that they [students] want to get back to some level of a normal summer,” Greene said at a June 14 news conference.
In the past, Greene said the district had a few thousand students participating in summer programs. The influx is mainly because of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief federal funding the school district received under the CARES Act. The funding helped the school district expand the programming it could offer at its camps.
“We’re offering a full-day summer school, including art, music, enrichment activity,” Greene said.
Programs offered this summer include traditional summer camp, the new Summer Rise program — which helps students prepare for the next grade level and Extended School Year services for students with disabilities.
Following another non-traditional school year because of the coronavirus pandemic, Greene said a number of students are participating in summer school for either credit recovery or just to be better prepared for the next school year.
“It doesn’t matter whether a student’s there for remediation or acceleration,” Greene said. “We wanted to ensure that we gave that summer camp type feel to students. The ESSER [Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief] funding is allowing us to develop a more robust summer school.”
Summer school is serving as a preview for what’s to come next school year regarding COVID-19 restrictions. Duval Schools recently announced it would scale back its mask mandate to an optional, but recommended policy. That had already started across the school district. Social-distancing requirements are still in place.
Image: Duval County Public Schools Superintendent Diana Greene addresses local media at a June 14 news conference. Emily Bloch/Florida Times-Union