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Summer School Considerations During COVID-19

Colorado's Summer School Considerations

Summer School often provides meaningful academic and enrichment-based opportunities for students. This year, summer school might be even more important to students, as well as districts that are considering new approaches to learning for summer and beyond.

As local education providers consider summer school in these exceptional times, the Colorado Department of Education provides these considerations to support the local decision-making process. In alignment with Governor Polis' April 22 Executive Order (PDF) suspending normal, in-person learning through the rest of the school year, CDE is working to help districts to ensure continued learning opportunities for students in summer 2020.

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Planning in Uncertain Times

  • Planning for summer school may seem like a moving target given the emerging epidemiological data and public health guidelines. CDE recommends leaving many options open, , including remote learning and small-group in-person learning. Significant physical distancing requirements are likely to continue through summer.
  • Pending public health guidelines, small-group, in-person instruction may be an option.
  • The economic impact of COVID-19 may require decreases to state and district budgets, and federal relief funds and philanthropic support might not be enough to cover cuts or new costs associated with summer school. Various funding options are explored below.

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Purpose and Goals

Identify the purpose and goals of summer school options for elementary, middle, and high school students in this evolving environment.

  • Consider reaching out to families, teachers, students, and staff to get feedback on how your current remote learning system is operating and to determine how summer programs can best meet the needs of your students.
  • Consider empowering parents and guardians over the summer to support their child from home. For example, districts might send parents a list of key skills for the past grade level, written in easy-to-understand language, and suggestions for ways to develop those skills at home, in outdoor play, etc.

​First, consider your purpose for summer school. This graphic includes several areas for consideration.

What is your purpose for summer school? 1) Remediation/ Credit Recovery 2) Acceleration/ Enrichment 3) Social Connection and Support 4) Teacher Training/ Professional Development 5) Fall Program Planning 6) Work Based Learning

View the Summer School Purpose and Goal Guide template to identify goals and funding sources to support the goals.

Once the summer school purpose is established, the information below may assist in the development and implementation of your summer school program.

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Student Engagement and Dropout Prevention Strategy

  • Consider district/school data (attendance, assignment completion, students "off-track", READ plans, ELs, special education - Extended School Year) to identify students for summer school. Targeted communications efforts and articulated supports could be offered to these students. Participation would not need to be mandatory nor would these students be penalized for non-participation.
    • Consider students who, at the time of school closures, were not meeting grade-level expectations, AND who have not engaged in remote learning.
    • Consider utilizing December 2019 to March 2020 school/district interim data and teacher recommendations based on classroom observations, class work, and assessments. Consider how to multilingually communicate and contact parents/guardians about summer school, including cell phones, mailings to the house, information in grocery stores.
  • Consider how to re-engage students who dropped out or lost contact.
    • Engage the regional migrant program if the child is migrant.
    • Initiate the communication now with students and families, and maintain the interactions.
    • Heighten and target already developed family engagement protocols to reach students and families who are unresponsive, e.g.: use family engagement liaisons, make individual phone calls, connect during food deliveries, reach out to friends/neighbors
    • Consider new families who moved to your district and activate engagement centers to capture and build relationships with them.
    • Explore reasons and incentives for students to participate.

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Teacher Training and Professional Development for Summer School

  • Consider how to prepare teachers and staff for health protocols, supporting students and families psychological needs, and mental health support in remote learning or small in-person learning.
  • Consider how to communicate the new purposes and expectations of the summer school program to district and school staff.
  • Consider how to communicate to teachers and others about programming parameters for both students identified for the extended school year special education program and for students identified for other summer school options.
  • Fall Program Planning: Consider how training in summer may also assist with restarting the school year, including: technology platforms, curriculum, student feedback.

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Social Connection and Support

  • Consider how to address social and emotional needs of multiple stakeholders. View Well-being and Connection During COVID-19 resources.
    • Attending to the social and emotional needs of students, staff and families
      • Create and maintain staff/student relationships
      • Create a sense of belonging and connection for students and staff
      • Practice mindfulness with students and staff
      • Emphasize respect, safety and community
    • Emphasizing the importance of attending to mental health, trauma, and building healthy coping skills
    • Setting the stage for learning opportunities
    • Monitoring students, staff and families and develop a process for those who are struggling
  • Consider remote school counseling and check-in calls with students and families.
  • Consider a transition plan between grade levels/schools for an end-of-summer "warm handoff."
  • Consider the impact of initiative fatigue and use summer to plan for the upcoming year.

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Nimble, Flexible Instructional Options as the Health Guidelines Evolve

Overall Considerations:

  • Educational services should strive to include equitable access to instruction for students accessing summer school options. This may look like different forms of instruction for students, based on their needs.
  • Consider equitable access to transportation if small-group, in-person instruction can occur.
  • Consider continuing the same or similar remote learning model into summer for consistency, especially for elementary students and parents.
  • Consider full-day versus half-day options to support working parents’ schedules.
  • Consider what programs are best provided by a district, such as formal remediation, versus what community partners like the Boys and Girls Clubs, public libraries and Rocky Mountain PBS can do.
  • Consider focusing on social-emotional learning for students and teachers.
  • Consider applying bridge programs to your summer school for all grades and not just critical transitions.
  • Consider how the summer programming ties into the system’s larger overall plan for community recovery.
  • Consider how to measure and communicate the impact of summer programs.
  • Consider using CDE approved reading intervention programs

Flexibility of Your Local Course Offerings

  • Remediation/Credit Recovery
    • Consider programming focused on closing gaps for students behind and/or targeted towards all students to close slides that may have occurred this spring.
    • Consider extending last term’s courses into summer for students needing more time.
    • Based on learning gaps, consider what standards were missed that require coherence into the next grade.
  • Acceleration/Enrichment
    • Consider programming focused on the continued acceleration or enrichment learning for all students, such as activities including arts, movement, etc.

Remote Learning Options:

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Consider Funding Sources to Support Summer School Options for Students

  • Consider braiding grants, such as 21st Century and EARSS grants, as well as Title 1-4 federal program funds and the English Language Proficiency Act (ELPA).
  • READ Act funding may be used to:
    • Purchase approved targeted, evidence-based or scientifically based intervention services to students which may include services provided by a reading interventionist.
    • Purchase tutoring services focused on increasing students’ foundational reading skills.
    • Provide technology, including software that is on the advisory list of instructional programming; may include professional development for use of technology.
    • Purchase from a BOCES the services of a reading specialist or reading interventionist.
    • Provide professional development to support K-3 educators in teaching reading.
  • CARES Act - Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund
    • Colorado has been allocated $120,993,782 from the ESSER Fund. At least 90% of funding will go to LEAs based on Title 1 shares. When it becomes available;
    • LEAs may use funds for:
      • Any activity authorized under ESEA, IDEA, Perkins, or McKinney-Vento, and the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act
      • Other activities to help with the response to COVID-19, including preparedness and response efforts, sanitation, professional development, distance learning, and others.
      • The department may reserve up to 10% of funds to subgrant to districts or state contracts for emergency needs to respond to the coronavirus as determined by the SEA and may use some funds for administration (0.5%).
  • Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund
    • This is a potential funding source, pending governor’s plans.
  • TABOR 3% Emergency Reserve
    • Pursuant to TABOR, districts can use the 3% Emergency Reserve fund "for declared emergencies only" Art. X, § 20 (5).
      • Districts and other political subdivisions have the authority to declare an emergency for purposes of accessing TABOR reserves.
      • The Governor has declared a state of emergency under § 24-33.5-704 (4), C.R.S., for responding to COVID-19, which is sufficient for the State to access its own emergency reserve under § 24-77-104, C.R.S.
      • Whether it is sufficient for a district to access its TABOR reserve is a question of district fiscal policy.

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Summer Food Service Program

  • School Food Authorities (SFAs) and other child nutrition program sponsors can serve free meals to children 0-18 during the summer. Please work with CDE's School Nutrition Unit to ensure seamless operations and assess meal program needs. For questions, please use this email address:

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Summer Camps / Sports Camps

  • Pending public health guidelines, consider protocols (appendix A) for protecting the health of students and staff during any in-person activity including summer camps. Please consult with your county health department and check back here for updated guidance from the state’s Emergency Operations Center or the Governor’s Office.

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CDE staff are available to support schools and districts in making these important decisions.

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Appendix: Protecting the Health of School Community Members

Pending public health guidelines, consider protocols for protecting health of school community members when moving from remote learning to partial or full in-person learning:

CDPHE Guidance for P-12 Education on Remote Learning for the Remainder of the 19/20 School Year (PDF) - 4/27/20

  • Implement policy on exclusions, such as not coming to school if you are sick
  • Screen staff and students based on public health recommendations
    • Screenings for all staff and students upon arrival
    • Protocols for conducting, monitoring, and tracking screenings
  • Invest in tools and equipment: non-latex gloves, non-touch thermometers, masks, gowns and eye protection
  • Increase Cleaning, Disinfecting, and Sanitizing
    • Supplies and Process for sanitizing surfaces: who, what, when, how often
  • Educate and invest in proper hygiene
    • Follow hand washing recommendations; adequate hand soap/sanitizer
  • Encouraging Safe Physical Distancing During
    • Instruction, transitions, breaks, play, meals, pick up/drop off, late drop-off, bus transportation, restroom, recess, before/after school programs, field trips, extracurricular activities and athletics, off periods (when students are not assigned a class hour)
  • Care for staff and students who become ill at school
    • Supporting families with urgent needs, ie. medical supplies, food, shelter
    • Create separate space to handle those with "COVID-19" symptoms until parent pick up
    • Track trends to support public health efforts
    • Create separate space for those with injuries/illnesses with "Non-COVID-19-like" symptoms
  • Care for students with chronic conditions
    • Implementation of Student Health Care Plans and 504 Plans
    • Staff trained and delegated to administer medications and other medical treatments ordered by authorized care providers
    • Medication storage
  • Protect vulnerable populations
    • Students and staff at high risk for COVID-19 (lung disease, heart disease, immune deficiency, diabetes, aged over 60 years)
    • Avoid crowds and public gatherings as much as possible
    • Avoid contact with individuals with any illness
    • Allow parents to make the best decision for their families regarding attendance and provide remote learning options
  • Respond to general emergencies
    • Identify staff with first aid and CPR certification
    • Staff trained and delegated to recognize symptoms and respond to emergencies
    • First Aid Supplies - protective gear, face shield for mouth-to-mouth
    • Fire drills, evacuation planning and shelter in place planning - while maintaining safe distancing
    • Continue child abuse reporting process

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