To the editor:
This year has demanded that all New York City families and students do many things differently — they’ve had to think differently, learn differently, and connect differently with teachers, peers and the whole school community.
At the city’s education department, we know we also have to think differently as we look toward the summer. For the first time ever, we are inviting all students to join us for a free, fun-filled enriching summer program: Summer Rising.
This year, we will serve any student from kindergarten through 12th grade in July and August who wants to participate, and I am excited to be partnered with the city’s youth and community development department to reimagine what summer can be. Our children’s days will be filled with innovative academic support, social-emotional learning, and engaging enrichment activities.
These programs will be designed by school teams in partnership with local community-based organizations, and offered in hundreds of sites across all five boroughs.
After all the trauma and disruptions caused by the pandemic over the past 15 months, our children need a chance to reboot their education in fun and supportive ways as we approach the full reopening of our schools in September. It is time to begin regaining what the pandemic took away.
Summer Rising is an opportunity to do just that, creating spaces for students to learn, grow, play and explore the city around them — from field trips to Central park and museums, to dance and art classes.
Summer Rising also will provide an enormous relief to families by keeping children safe, supported and productive this summer.
After enduring months when so many of our students were isolated from their teachers and peers, the opportunity to rebuild those face-to-face relationships will do so much to support their healing process and prepare them for returning to school in the fall.
All students from kindergarten through eighth grade participating in the programs will have access to academic classes and enrichment programming, including field trips, arts activities, and outdoor recreation. Students also will engage in daily community building and social emotional learning activities.
We know some students with disabilities may require additional supports to participate in Summer Rising, and those supports will be provided as needed.
In addition, Summer Rising is a chance for high school students to complete courses in progress, make up credits to march toward graduation, and participate in academic acceleration opportunities. They also will be able to engage in important work experience and internship opportunities, like the Summer Youth Employment Program.
As always, health and safety remain a top priority. Summer Rising will follow the rigorous health protocols that succeeded in keeping our schools among the safest places in the city this academic year.
To support these efforts, parents will need to complete a testing consent form for their child so we can keep everyone healthy and safe.
Summer Rising will be the start of revitalizing the powerful joy of learning together as we head toward a strong reopening of our schools, and warm homecoming for our students in the fall. I strongly urge the families of every child who can join us over the summer to sign up now.
To learn more about the options available for your child, or to sign up, go to NYC.gov/summerrising. All programs are free, in-person, and have something to offer everyone.
The author is the New York City schools chancellor.