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Las Vegas nonprofit offers free virtual summer school

A Las Vegas-based nonprofit is providing free virtual summer school for Nevada students.

Nevada Action for School Options is a partner in a new nationwide effort — The National Summer School Initiative — to help combat a decline in academic skills due to COVID-19 school closures this spring and summer break.

The “summer slide” is a “well-documented phenomenon that happens every summer, and it particularly comes down hard on the lower income populations,” said Don Soifer, founder and president of Nevada Action for School Options.

The summer school program will run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Mondays through Fridays from June 29 to July 31. Instruction will focus on English, math and enrichment activities such as movement and virtual science labs.

Master teachers from across the country will provide instruction virtually with assistance from local instructors.

Summer school is open to children who just completed third through eighth grades at public and private schools and through home schooling. The deadline to sign up is 5 p.m. Tuesday.

Soifer, who’s also a board member for the State Public Charter School Authority, said he hopes the nonprofit continues to get a “robust response” from interested families. As of Tuesday, 130 children had signed up.

It’s the first time Nevada Action for School Options — which launched in 2017 — has offered summer school. The Clark County School District, along with some local public charter schools and private schools, also have programs.

The National Summer School Institute is philanthropically funded, and was created by a group of educators and public school officials, said Chris Cerf, one of the initiative’s leaders. He was previously superintendent of Newark, New Jersey, public schools, New Jersey’s commissioner of education and deputy chancellor of the New York City Department of Education.

Leaders of the national initiative raised approximately $3.5 million to offer the virtual summer school program for free to partner schools and organizations, Cerf said. At least 15,000 students are expected to participate this summer.

Some children didn’t have a successful virtual learning experience this spring and are experiencing what’s known as “learning loss,” he said.

Cerf said organizers wanted to create a pilot program this summer that could be a foundation for schools to use as part of their remote instruction in the fall and beyond.

Contact Julie Wootton-Greener at jgreener@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2921. Follow @julieswootton on Twitter.

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