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School's IN for Summer!

June 1, 2021

Yes, after neverending masking and zooming and sanitizing, the 2020-2021 School year is almost over! However, don't start singing “no more pencils, and no more books” because school’s in for summer!

Often during this time of the year we are helping students with IEPs and their parents advocate for appropriate extended school year (ESY) programming. This summer however there are additional options for parents to consider in light of the learning opportunities our students’ may have missed during the Covid pandemic.

  • Need to get students back into the school environment.

  • Need to make up for the loss in social development and peer relations that came from COVID shutdowns.

  • Need to rebuild relationships between students and school staff.

  • Need to understand that school is not all about academic progress to meet Common Core objectives.

NEW Summer School for Learning Acceleration

  • Learning acceleration can take place before, during, or after school; on weekends; during school breaks; or over the summer.

  • Schools may incorporate accelerated learning into electives and expanded learning time to provide more time in school to address challenging subjects.

  • Can be provided during the school year

NEW Summer Learning and Enrichment

  • Schools and districts should design programs that work best in the local context and reflect the characteristics that evidence suggests lead to successful summer programs. These characteristics include: programs are voluntary, full-day lasting five to six weeks, include three hours of language arts and mathematics taught by a certified teacher each day, and include enrichment activities and experiences.

  • Not Just Academics! Summer learning programs should also be designed to meet the social and emotional needs of students and provide them with engaging and enriching experiences. Camps can also play a role in summer learning, depending on the design and quality of the experience. Local leaders should reduce barriers (e.g., transportation, cost, enrollment process) to attending high-quality summer camps, which might support academic, social, emotional, and health outcomes, particularly for underserved children and youth.

  • Can be provided during the school year

Traditional Summer School

  • Summer school is a program, sponsored by the school district, to provide lessons during the summer vacation, often to help students pass courses that they were challenged by during the school year.

  • Usually a four-day a week, three hour per day program for five weeks.

  • Available to all students

Extended School Year

  • An ESY program is a bit different from traditional summer school.

  • ESY may be eligible to students with IEPs, and includes specialized instruction and related services that the student needs in order to prevent regression of skills during the extended break from school.

  • Like the rest of the child’s IEP, the ESY program must be individualized to meet that particular student’s unique educational needs, and allow him to make progress on his IEP goals and objectives.

  • Not all special education students require extended school year services. If your child is not likely to lose skills over the summer, or if she is able to quickly recoup any previously learned skills even after an extended break, she may not be entitled to ESY.

  • However, other special circumstances identified by the IEP team could also qualify a student for ESY, such as: the ability of the student to interact with other non-disabled students; the areas of the student’s curriculum that need continuous attention; the student’s vocational needs; or the availability of alternative resources.

  • The determination of whether or not a child will be eligible for an extended school year program and the content and location of the program is generally discussed at the annual review for the child.

  • This should be done early enough to allow sufficient time for any dispute regarding the determination of eligibility for ESY services or the provision of ESY services to be resolved before the start of the extended school year program.

  • All parents should be advised of the availability of extended school year services for eligible children in any parent or student manual or other description of services provided by the district to parents.

  • Strategies like in-school acceleration, tutoring programs, out-of-school time programs, and summer learning and enrichment are supplemental instruction and cannot replace a program of special education and related services based on a student’s IEP and the decisions of the IEP Team.

Compensatory Education

  • Students with disabilities might be entitled to additional instruction and services, often referred to as compensatory services to make up for any skills that might have been lost if it is individually determined that the student was unable to receive FAPE, as a result of the closure of school buildings during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Where a district fails to provide students with a free appropriate public education, it can be liable to provide compensatory education.

  • Attorney Feinstein’s recent presentation on Compensatory Education


  • Try working out a make-whole program with your school district.

  • Likely to involve a range of times and programs.

  • No obligation for you to accept summer services.

  • Make certain that students with disabilities can take advantage of enrichment activities available to all students.

  • Don’t use the term “comp ed” unless you reach a stalemate.

  • Design remedial services that your child can take advantage of.

  • Do not overload your child.

For more information about new pandemic related school programming and funding:

Connecticut Guidance: