Summer school a real possibility, PA House hearing reveals

Regional News

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — The Pennsylvania House of Representatives started two days of hearings on the educational challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s a big topic, but one of the headlines is the real possibility of summer school to make up for lost academic time.

Jennifer Hynes’ sone has a hybrid high school schedule. He’s sleeping too much and not learning enough. She says and thinks it’s time to go back to the classroom full time.

Hynes is a mental health professional.

“Kids are depressed. They don’t get to see their friends. Their anxiety is through the roof,” she said.

Tuesday’s hearing explored the pandemic’s impact on education. Students won’t be happy to learn summer school is a real possibility to catch them up before fall.

“You named summer. That’s absolutely one space many districts are looking at. Others are looking at extended school days and extended school year calendars …” said Deputy Secretary Matt Stem for the Pa. Department of Education.

Rep. Mark Longietti (D) is the education committee chair. He also seems summer school as a potential option in many Pa. school districts.

“I think in many cases that’s gonna be necessary, yes, we don’t want to see kids behind on grade level,” Longietti said.

But there are schools going all in-person. Others are all online. And often they’re right next to each other.

“It’s up to the parents to put the pressure on school boards because that’s who votes for them. I do believe in local government, as much as it is frustrating, to see each of these schools looking at the same data and interpreting it differently,” Rep. Valerie Gaydos (R-Allegheny) said.

Prioritizing teachers for the COVID-19 vaccine might get kids back in class more quickly. Half of the states have done that already. Pennsylvania has not.

“The good news is students aren’t really at risk, according to the CDC, but let’s protect the teachers so we have one less problem and that will solve a lot of our trouble,” Rep. Tim Twardzik (R-Schuylkill) said.

Lawmakers and school boards and teachers are all talking. But Hynes thinks nobody listening to parents like her.

“You have a choice to stay home. I should have the choice to go to school,” Hynes said.

The hearings continue Wednesday with the impact of COVID on higher education.

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