ATTLEBORO — The state has given the city $166,000 to provide extra support to youngsters entering school in the fall in the wake of the pandemic.
Attleboro schools and the Attleboro YMCA joined forces with the state Department of Early Education and Care and United Way of Massachusetts Bay to expand and enhance summer programs for youngsters.
As families prepared for the transition to the new school year, city schools and the YMCA led community-wide recruitment/enrollment efforts and coordinated transportation for students attending summer school in the morning and camp in the afternoon. Additional funds went toward staff professional development.
“We are fortunate to partner with community organizations in Attleboro and provide our students with extended learning experiences,” Attleboro Assistant Superintendent Laurie Regan said in a news release. “Our continued collaboration benefits our students and families, as we prepare for the return to full in-person learning.”
The funding provided through the state’s Summer Step Up Program helped to connect 126 children entering pre-k through 2nd grade to full day and extended care programming at the YMCA’s Day Camp Finberg.
Attleboro YMCA was able to move 50 kids off its waitlist, and while at the 80-acre camp in Norton, Attleboro youngsters had the opportunity to grow and develop academically, socially and emotionally as they participated in numerous activities including STEM lessons and a ropes challenge.
“The Attleboro Norton YMCA is grateful to have great partners in the United Way and Attleboro Public Schools,” said Robin McDonald, Attleboro Norton YMCA CEO. “More than any summer before, children have needed the opportunity to engage with peers, learn and grow through the summer.”
State officials announced recently more than $7 million was spread across 30 school districts and 84 non-profit organizations, including Attleboro.
Summer Step Up is a new program designed to accelerate learning during critical summer months for young children who have had limited access to in-school experiences due to COVID-19.
More than 2,000 children entering pre-K to second grade benefited from the expanded summer learning opportunities across the state, smoothing the transition to in-person learning.
“Research continues to show that a strong foundation entering school sets students up for long-term academic success,” said Commissioner Samantha Aigner-Treworgy of the Department of Early Education and Care. “Our new Summer Step-Up program is already making an impact, supporting school districts, in collaboration with community partners and national experts, to maximize the critical summer months to provide young children with in-person learning experiences that will ensure they are prepared for school in the fall.”
The Summer Step Up Program also partnered with seven educational and technical assistance organizations to provide curriculum and materials: the Boston Children’s Museum, Erikson Institute, JASON Learning, Museum of Science, Project Adventure, Education Development Center, and Collaborative for Educational Services.
The Department of Early Education and Care is working with the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley to administer $10 million in grants for Summer Step Up programs through the fall.
“We have yet to understand the full, long-term impact of COVID-19 on young people’s social-emotional and academic development,” said Bob Giannino, president and Chief Executive Officer at United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley.
“The immediate effects of disrupted learning are already evident.”