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Over four months have passed since the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in San Antonio, disrupting all aspects of ordinary life. When schools closed to curb the spread of the virus, every child in San Antonio experienced a serious disruption in formal education, exacerbating the education achievement gap between children with access to in-home learning support and resources and those without.

Recent research has shown that long interruptions from in-person education can be damaging to student learning. During an average summer, children typically lose anywhere from 20 to 50 percent of school-year gains in reading and math. The current forecast of children losing six months, or more, of in-person schooling and hands-on learning will likely cause a dramatic increase in learning loss. Unaddressed, this “COVID Slide” may lead to students returning to school with great ranges in instruction needs and academic levels that may never be rectified, potentially impacting an entire generation of learners.

It is imperative that children and families can access engaging, supplemental educational resources to lessen this imminent learning gap. Curiosity, ingenuity, and critical thinking skills are important drivers of student success when schools resume. Children must prepare to continue their formal education journey with confidence and stamina.

Leading informal learning with over 25 years serving the children of San Antonio, The DoSeum is proud to be a part of the solution. We provide children, families, and educators with safe, purposefully-engineered spaces to learn, discover, and explore – both from their homes and now, with a full complement of extra safety accommodations, in person.

In March, The DoSeum launched DO It At Home, a robust virtual program focused on deepening children’s connection to STEM, literacy, and the arts. Additionally, The DoSeum created digital teaching resources for area educators looking to add context and supportive content to their virtual classrooms. Early in June, The DoSeum excitedly welcomed children back to campus for summer camp programming and signature models of engagement in STEM, the arts, and literacy. Our aim remains to inspire them to explore, discover, create, and learn.

Now that we are open to all families, opportunities for hands-on learning have never been more salient or accessible. Children and families visiting The DoSeum strengthen their understanding of mathematics and evidence-based learning in the Semmes Foundation Spy Academy, engage in all forms of maker-centered learning at the Zachry Innovation Station, investigate forces and motion in Force Course, and more. There is no replacement for hands-on learning, and for our Doers, these interactive, educational experiences are more valuable than ever.

Low-income families in under-resourced communities are most at risk for learning loss during school closures, so we continue to offer our discounts, scholarships, and inclusive programs, including our generously-supported SNAP/WIC discount for general admissions.

While The DoSeum remains committed to continuing to provide critical programming, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted operations and, like many nonprofits, yielded a budget shortfall. Our closure during our busiest seasons, as well as the cancellation of major fundraising events, has resulted in significant lost revenue that is critical to our work and to our future.

During this time, members, donors, and educators are rallying together to share the importance of The DoSeum experience and the vital needs we serve through a campaign called What The DoSeum Means to Me. This campaign is helping raise critical funds to ensure The DoSeum is around when children need it the most. With the community’s support, we will ensure that our youngest residents never stop learning, discovering, and DOING.

To learn more about DoSeum programs and discounts, our safety protocols in place, and how you can help, please visit our website.

Ann-Marie Camosy Murray works in the Youth Development and Education spaces in San Antonio and earned her Bachelor and Masters Degrees from UTSA. She is currently the Donor Relations Manager at The DoSeum...