COVID and BIPOC Students

Britta Livengood

“We are in the same storm, but not in the same boat.” Over the course of the pandemic I’ve seen this post pop up on my social media many times, and it couldn’t be more accurate. I’m glad people are realizing that even though we’re all going through COVID-19 it is affecting some more than others.

As if the BIPOC community didn’t have enough hurdles to jump already, this pandemic has given them plenty more. I could go on about limited access to health care, income gaps, and inequitable housing due to pervasive racism. Instead, let’s focus on the children in school this year.

COVID didn’t cause the educational inequalities impacting students, but it has shed light on what many BIPOC families are experiencing in education. Across the country, many school districts have gone fully virtual, or are expecting students to complete some form of “at home learning” online. Unfortunately, some students do not have reliable internet, suitable learning environments, or even devices for virtual learning, especially when shared among siblings. Many BIPOC parents need to continue working, and are struggling to find accommodations for their children during the day.

The disparities of resources and support for BIPOC students has always been a concern, but COVID has only widened that gap. Students whose families cannot meet the expectations of their district without equitable support are slowly being left behind as the content continues, but the lack of resources remains stagnant.

The question is: where do we go from here? It’s important to remember that we’re still in the middle of a global pandemic. This is not a normal school year.

  • Checking in on how students are feeling is equally as important as checking in on their academics. Covering standards is still important, but so is the mental health of students.

  • Give students options on assignments to show what they’ve learned. Can they draw a comic on paper and take a picture to attach it online? Can they describe their reading summary on a video through FlipGrid?

  • Keep high expectations for students when giving work, but make sure to give students grace as they turn in their assignments.

Yes, we are in the same storm, but not the same boat. So let’s give the life preservers to those that need it most. We will get through this together.

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We look forward to staying connected.

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