Queens leaders applaud city’s launch of summer programs for kids

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After a year of remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, the city is launching a new summer program for students. (Photo via Getty Images)

Queens elected officials are praising a new city initiative that will combine summer school and summer camp to create a program to help youngsters as parents return to the workplace.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that applications for the free Summer Rising plan will open Monday, April 26, and families can sign up through the Discover DYCD website.

Kindergarten and elementary school students will participate in a five-day-a-week program for seven weeks, providing critical child care services for families that combine the city’s Department of Education’s educational support with the Department of Youth and Community Development’s programming.

“It has been a tumultuous year for our city’s youth and Summer Rising is critical for our return to normal,” Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said. “Our students deserve every opportunity available to thrive and learn, and I encourage Queens families to take advantage of this innovative program.”

The $120 million program will address the immediate academic and social-emotional needs of children across the city and provide a bridge to the next school year while allowing youngsters the chance to reconnect with one another and with their schools.

“The Summer Rising plan is an exciting development as we look to provide enrichment opportunities for students and help to offset some of the childcare burdens on families,” Councilman I. Daneek Miller said. “By combining some of the city’s best programs for young people, including the Summer Youth Employment Program, students of all ages will be able to access much-needed in-person instruction and ease the transition to full-time, in-person instruction this fall. Initiatives such as this only happen through robust public discourse and conversations between communities and families, and I am looking forward to sharing this program.”

Summer locations will be available in every borough, with nearly half of all DOE school buildings serving students citywide. All programs will follow rigorous health and safety protocols and have access to testing, nursing support and a telehealth call center.

“I think it’s a great idea to give our students an opportunity to exercise their minds and get their creative juices flowing again, particularly after suffering through the isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic,” state Senator James Sanders said. “I fully support this very necessary effort to improve the education and well-being of our young people and I look forward to helping in any way that I can.”

All K-through-8 students participating in the program will have access to academic classes, enrichment programming including field trips, arts activities and outdoor recreation, and will engage in daily social-emotional learning activities.

“The more resources and opportunities we can create for children to succeed the better,” Councilman Francisco Moya said. “It’s been a challenging time for families balancing remote learning and we need to ensure we mitigate the COVID side impact on students. The Summer Rising plan is one way to do so.”

As in prior years, schools will notify families by June if their student is required to participate in summer learning and will share additional details with families about how they can enroll. These students will participate together in the same Summer Rising programs as those students not mandated to attend.

“For too many and for too long, summer has been a missed opportunity,” Councilman Barry Grodenchik said. “No child or teenager is best served by sitting at home all summer. The city’s free programming for elementary, middle and high school students means that this summer, more youngsters will be actively engaging their minds and bodies.”

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