By Esme Murphy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Gov. Tim Walz on Tuesday announced $75 million of federal COVID-19 relief money will go to summer school programs with the goal to help Minnesotans catch up after a year filled with different learning models.

Walz spoke to kids, parents, and teachers at Otter Lake Elementary, thanking them all for the hard work they put into education during an uncertain year.

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For parents like Brady McGovern, it’s been a year like no other.

“I’m just kind of scared that he would not be getting the education he regularly would,” McGovern said of his 5-year-old son James.

To help students and parents facing similar fears, the funding will provide new summer programs for every school district in the state.

“We have the shared value of making sure all of our young people have what they need, are able to  to prevent maybe a bit of the summer slide for some, and for a lot of our students to catch up,” added Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan.

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The program is half the size Walz originally wanted. He had been pushing for $150 million, but the funding will still reach those not always thought of as being part of summer education programs.

The plan says $20 million will go to preschool programs for 4- and 5-year-olds to make sure they are ready for kindergarten while $6 million will go to mental health resources for kids. Another $3.2 million will go to tutoring and $1.1 million will go to college prep level coursework for high school students.

For both Brady and James McGovern, this is welcome news.

“I would definitely like to see if we can get some free summer school programs,” Brady McGovern said.

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For information about summer school programs in your area, contact your local school district.

Esme Murphy