In spite of the unique challenges brought on by COVID-19, the City of Dallas, DISD, Big Thought, and other local organizations worked together to provide educational programs to students during summer 2020.
When the pandemic forced the closure of many U.S. schools in spring 2020, students and teachers were thrown into an unfamiliar virtual classroom. The transition to remote learning posed significant challenges for everyone involved as they weren’t all equipped with the proper technology, resources, and support.
With parents and teachers worried about the exacerbation of the “summer slide” and students developing emotional health problems, Big Thought, the Dallas City of Learning, and other local organizations decided to create a coalition focused on in and out of school social and emotional learning practices called SEL Dallas.
A Dallas City of Learning Summer 2020 report has since been released that details initial data findings on this and its other summer programs, along with a follow up report highlighting the unprecedented time that summer 2020 was a part of due to the ongoing pandemic.
In a time of turmoil, the Dallas City of Learning— a public private partnership with a goal of helping young people learn and build skills when they are out of school—found a way to stay focused and provided students accessible, quality education for summer learning for little to no cost.
As the team learned more about the pandemic, adjustments were made and their constraints led to innovation and creation across the board.
“The digital divide has shown itself to be a massive challenge,” Byron Sanders, CEO of Big Thought, said in a statement. “I am most impressed with the efforts, creativity, and courage that our educators and administrators have put forth being able to be there for our kids.”
Although this summer definitely looked different from the rest, the Dallas City of Learning (DCOL) partnered with 414 different organizations whose roles ranged from facilitating events to providing programs for youth and families.While there was a decrease in the number of partners from 2019, it did not discourage the DCOL, which successfully offered 856 different programs and events including 763 online programs, 95 in-person programs, and 2 events held across the city.
“We should not be comparing these findings from previous summers as we anticipated lower results,” Sergio Antonio Garcia, Senior Manager, Learning Systems for Big Thought, said in a statement. “Despite lower overall numbers, summer 2020 sparked many key innovations that will continue to have positive impact on the ecosystem.”