COVID-19 forces UWM to move popular summer program online

Posted at 11:07 AM, Jun 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-02 12:07:03-04

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted summer plans for people across our area.

On campus at UW-Milwaukee, the annual College for Kids & Teens program is celebrating its 40th year this summer.

The program allows K-12th graders to sign up for summer programming and classes that's marketed as entertaining, educational and engaging.

"It's about having fun in the summer," said Ben LaDuke, Director of the College for Kids & Teens program. "It's about enrichment programming, where students are coming in, getting an opportunity to work with college professors and local school teachers on fun, exciting experiments and experiences."

But this summer, programming will be different.

LaDuke said organizers made the decision on May 1 to move this summer's entire College for Kids & Teens program online.

"We just decided that would be the safest, best way to cater to our families," LaDuke said.

He said the program will still offer roughly two thirds of the scheduled classes.

Some classes were adjusted to better fit with an online learning model.

A pottery class scheduled to take place at UW-Milwaukee's craft center was changed to a ceramics, art, expression and clay class that could be done from home.

An Italian cooking class was altered to an Italian, family cooking class with an emphasis on preparing a meal with others.

"Since we're all at home right now, that gives people an opportunity to, as a family, make some great food," LaDuke said.

While this summer's programming won't provide students with the experience of being on a college campus, LaDuke said the classes will still be interactive and engaging.

"The classes are still designed to give the kids a hands-on experience, and even though it's virtual, they're still able to interact with the instructors, to interact with the other students, and they're still going to be doing the curriculum based off of how it would be live in-person."

LaDuke said organizers will arrange curbside pickup of equipment for the classes.

Thomasina Ivy's son Kofi, now a rising fifth-grader, has been enrolling in college for kids programming since he was in kindergarten.

Ivy said Kofi is very interested in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) fields.

"I didn't want him just picking up a book for the summer," she said. "I wanted him engaged."

Ivy said her son is still very much looking forward to this summer's classes, even if they're online.

She thinks there could even be a silver lining to the change.

"The program is now able to expand its reach," Ivy said. "So now, people don't have to travel to Wisconsin to be part of this."

LaDuke said a typical summer enrollment at College for Kids & Teens is 800 individual students, many of whom take multiple classes which brings the total enrollment to roughly 2,300.

The program is still accepting enrollees online. Interested students can also call 414-227-3360.

College for Kids & Teens is also still awarding scholarships to some students. To apply, email

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