Airports have emptied and travel has essentially stopped due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Photo: Wikipedia

It is clear that the end of the 2019-20 school year did not go as planned. While Pace students have been able to maintain a fairly normal class schedule from home and will continue to have regular contact through the last day of school, this is certainly not the case at high schools across the country.

While most schools have continued to have classwork, homework and assessments of different forms, many students have had almost no actual class time. This begs the question: How will high schoolers, who already have very limited structured class time, deal with summer?

A major issue for students of all ages is “summer slump.” The statistics on the actual loss of information over the summer break vary, but according to the Brookings Institute, the loss can be anywhere from one month’s worth of class time to 30% of the information learned over the course of the school year. For students who are hardly in class at the end of this school year, this percentage will likely be higher.

Without a constant source of new material and structured time to practice it, it becomes much more difficult to retain the information that has been taught. With two months of social distancing and remote learning added to the two-month-long summer break, this summer may have an unprecedented effect on the difficulty of teaching and learning when students return to school in the fall.

Besides the actual learning aspect of being out of school for so long, for many students, this extended “break” feels like summer vacation. Some students and families that own lake or beach houses have already spent time there as a way to occupy some of their free time and get out of the city. It is unclear what effect this will have on summer break; however, it certainly switches up the normal order of events during the school year and makes remote learning even more of an unknown situation.

Especially for rising seniors who had planned to look at colleges or participate in summer programs across the country, many of their summer plans have already been canceled or postponed to the fall. This leaves them without any structured plan for summer break and takes away some of the most important experiences in their college search or summer in general.

For younger kids, summer programs may end up being cancelled. Programs like the Atlanta Swim Association’s summer season provide high schoolers with jobs and children of all ages with social interaction, as well as lessons of sportsmanship, teamwork and friendship. But this summer is uncertain, depending on the course the virus takes in Georgia. This is happening all over the country and may lead to kids and teens staying in the house even more over the summer, even if they are not required to do so. 

The Pace community is fortunate to have teachers and administrators who are willing to try and make traditions and events proceed as normally as possible. While the majority of proms and senior events nationwide have been canceled, juniors and seniors will still get their dance. Seniors will still get to have GAP Day, Baccalaureate and graduation, even if it is just a few weeks before they leave for college.

This gives seniors, and to some extent, upperclassmen in general, something to spend their summer looking forward to, and a big sendoff before they officially leave the Pace student body. Nonetheless, this summer will certainly be one for the history books.

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