Over the past several weeks I have witnessed such caring, resilience, and leadership—in my community and my local school district.
Last week was an exceptionally good week in Worthington, my school district. An anonymous community member donated $5,100.00 in $10.00 Kroger gift cards for distribution with the 510 meals that we distribute on Mondays.
My district has been lending Google Chromebooks and wireless hot spots to families who lack Internet access or enough technology at home.
Our teachers, guidance counselors, and social workers have been reaching out to students with phone calls and teleconferences. They are working hard at being there for our students, just in a very different way.
Yes, it is great to be in Worthington. But, I know it is not like that everywhere and it is not like that for every student.
Even before the pandemic, for students living with the impact of poverty and without basic resources or the bandwidth to address those needs getting by has been really challenging.
Schools represent many things to students—from a place to learn and connect with friends to a place where they can eat and have the support of a caring school professional. For many of our students, a school building is a safe haven that, for now, they must do without.
And so, while school buildings are closed for the health and safety of students, school staff, and their families, inequities continue to grow and the chasm between the haves and have nots is widening.
Teachers and school districts across the country have pivoted quickly to try to provide resources for families in need, from breakfast and lunch to digital tools such as laptops and Internet hot spots. But, even when resources can be made available, it does not mean someone in the home is able to access them. For example, families might not have transportation to get to schools to pick up meals or might not know how to set up wireless Internet service.
As states move toward a gradual reopening, I worry how students might be affected if their parents and families must go back to work. I am concerned about the possibility of parents going back to work and leaving young children at home. I am also uneasy about students’ lost learning opportunities.
It will take a lot to effect the changes needed to support all students in the way they need to be supported, I recognize that. I also recognize and have faith in the hardworking commitment and dedication of our country’s school board members, and public school teachers, principals, and administrators.