By Joan Murray

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Parents with elementary school students in public school will be able to request their children repeat their grade next year because of the so-called COVID slide, but there are other options available.

Public schools are trying to combat the pandemic brain drain as it is called, offering expanded school programs.

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Miami-Dade began in-person graduation ceremonies Monday, but there were lingering signs of COVID.
Students wore masks and the seating for parents was limited at the Miami-Dade Fairgrounds.

“I feel like I speak for a lot of us and it forces us to get to know ourselves and our own goals,” said Anabella Dovale, a high school graduate.

“COVID hit us very hard, we know like anything, we adapt and get used to the new scenery and we push through and persevere and we are here today graduating,” said Mark Salazar, who is also graduating this year.

Between the shutdown last year and half of all students online, there has been a learning loss. So, Broward and Miami-Dade public schools are trying to combat the slide with expanded summer programs.

This is not your parents’ summer school.

“We are focusing on remediation but acceleration and accelerating our students who are performing well,” said Sarah Leonardi, who is a teacher and school board member.

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Broward has already signed up more than 34,000 students.

“It will be our biggest summer program in the history of Broward County Public Schools. We have over 4,500 teachers who signed up to participate so am excited to see how that goes,” adds Leonardi.

The summer program Pre-K through Grade 12 will run June 21 through July 29. It is in-person learning.

Literacy teacher Lauren Gordon has enrolled her six-year-old son Jordan, who is in kindergarten.

“After COVID, we saw a significant decrease in student academic and social skills. I think it is really important for him to maintain the consistency to reinforce those academic concepts and I hope this summer we can get back some of that missed social interaction and academic help.”

In Miami-Dade, they have reimagined summer school, combining academics and activities. It is called Summer 305 adventure, which runs June 14 through August 20. It is Pre-K through Grade 12 and will be in-person and virtual learning.

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This is a great chance for kids to catch up academically and socially over the summer.