Four members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors have put their support behind an initiative that would provide free summer programs to elementary school students affected by pandemic-induced school closures. (Photo courtesy Michael Swan/Flickr)

Four San Francisco supervisors on Monday announced they’re backing an initiative to provide free summer programs for all San Francisco Unified School District elementary students to help families deal with the impacts of prolonged school closures.

Under the new initiative called Summer Programs, Learning and Activities for Youth, or Summer PLAY, the city would provide free universal summer programs for all SFUSD elementary school students, with families being able to choose between educational or recreational programs.

The initiative is being backed by supervisors Matt Haney, Hillary Ronen, Myrna Melgar and Connie Chan.

“With students facing increased learning loss and isolation, access to summer camps, enrichment opportunities, and wrap around services will be more important than ever. Children desperately need opportunities to safely be together again. The Summer PLAY initiative will eliminate barriers, whether cost or capacity, to ensure every kid in our city has a spot in a summer program. We have to do this,” Haney said in a statement.

“The educational and emotional toll that the last year of school closures has had on SFUSD families is immeasurable, and our public school families are still in desperate need of support from the city,” Ronen said. “Expanding summer programming and summer learning opportunities for SFUSD families is a necessary step that we as a city must take in order to bring some much needed stability and relief to our public school children and families.”

SFUSD schools first closed back in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and have remained closed while students do distance learning. And although school district officials have reached a tentative agreement with labor unions and also released a plan for resuming in-person learning, it’s unclear whether schools will reopen by the end of the school year.

During Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, Haney, Ronen, Melgar and Chan plan on jointly introducing a supplemental appropriation ordinance pledging $15 million to fund part of the program. The supervisors are also calling on the city’s philanthropic partners to cover the remaining costs.

Once introduced, the supplemental appropriation will be considered at a upcoming Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee.