NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Tuesday was the first day of New York City public schools' summer program
Because of the pandemic, it's open to any student who wants to attend.
But a union says staffing shortages will hamper the city's plan to help kids catch up.
As CBS2's Aundrea Cline-Thomas reports, Schools Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter and Mayor Bill de Blasio did the "cha cha slide" with students at P.S. 6 in Flatbush to kick off the new Summer Rising program. Three hundred are enrolled at that location, and more than 200,000 across the school system.
"I think the program is going to help him to achieve more, so I think it's a very good idea," parent Jonelle Pilgrim said.
The program is being dubbed the bridge to the fall, a needed transition as a vast majority of students opted for remote learning since March 2020.
Now schools are measuring the pandemic's impact on their social, emotional and academic growth.
"We'll do a pre-assessment to see where kids are and try to move them up to the next level," said Principal Sharon Porter.
It's a full day of programming starting at 8 a.m. The mornings are reserved for academic classes while the afternoons are for enrichment.
But in a statement, the union representing school principals and administrators called Summer Rising an "ambitious program" and said "unfortunately, the city's poor implementation in recent weeks led to staffing concerns and frustrated families."
"We're happy to be doing something big and ambitious for our kids and we pulled together the staffing we need. It's there," de Blasio said.
But the union says staffing shortages continue at some sites because of growing enrollment.
"We had a great interest we are excited about, so we staffed up really quickly to meet that interest," Porter said.
The principal at P.S. 6 says staffing there is not an issue. Still, one parent says the first day was not without challenges.
"Today was a little crazy but that's about it. At first, Pre-K was only from 8-12, but now they made it from 8-6 so both of them can stay," said parent Satinique Moncrieffe.
"I do math, phonics and then lunch," said her son Kaiden.
He's looking forward to coming back tomorrow.
The mayor and schools chancellor later conceded that it may take a few days for some sites to be up and running. The goal is to allow every family an ability to participate.
Enrollment is still open. Click here for more information.
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