WASHINGTON (AP) — Jill Biden and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona will visit Connecticut, Georgia and Michigan this week to examine summer learning programs that are helping children who fell behind during the pandemic catch up on reading, writing and arithmetic before the new school year begins.
The two-day tour, which the first lady's office announced Tuesday, also gives her and Cardona a chance to highlight programs that are paid for by President Joe Biden's coronavirus relief program. The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan set aside $122 billion to help schools safely reopen and stay open during the pandemic, and address students' academic and mental health needs.
Many schools across the United States saw large numbers of students fall under the radar after schools shut their doors because of the pandemic and learning went online. Many students skipped class, tests and homework. Record numbers of families opted out of annual standardized tests, leaving some districts with little evidence of how students were doing in reading and math.
Now that most schools have reopened, many have been racing to make up for lost time and gaps in learning. They are budgeting billions of dollars for tutoring, summer camps and longer school days and trying to figure out which students need the most help after two years of disruptions.
Biden, a professor at Northern Virginia Community College, and Cardona, were opening the tour Wednesday by visiting a Horizons National summer learning program held at the private Albertus Magnus College in New Haven, Connecticut, for local public elementary school students.
Horizons National is a nonprofit providing summer learning programs in 20 states, according to the first lady's office.
Cardona is also a career educator and a Connecticut native who was that state's education commissioner when President Biden nominated him for the federal post.
Cardona and the first lady also plan stops Thursday at a Detroit Public Schools Community District summer learning program, held at Schulze Academy for Technology and Arts in Detroit that serves kindergarten through eighth grade students from the district.
From Michigan, they will head to Athens, Georgia, to visit another Horizons National program, this one at the University of Georgia and serving students from Barnett Shoals Elementary School.