Day camps, paying teens to study: Summer school looks different. Will it help kids catch up?

Kamiyah Sanders and Jonta Jenkins take part in the learning opportunities offered during the Children's Defense Fund Schools summer program last July at Dixon School of Arts and Sciences in Pensacola, Florida.

Ever since public schools reopened for older students in Tulsa, Oklahoma last month, Shannon Luper’s granddaughter has been eager to get out of the house.

The local rollerskating rink, a Friday night spot for middle schoolers, shut down during the pandemic. But Maria Dan, 14, adopted other pursuits, like tending to the school garden on weekends and delivering groceries for a local mobile food initiative.

“Anything they can do in the community that has them seeing people and being with their friends tends to motivate them,” Luper said.

Tulsa Public Schools and other districts are embracing that idea this summer with enhanced plans for programs in June, July and August that mix academics with play and in-person socialization — something millions of students have missed this year.

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