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President Donald Trump’s announcement to extend nationwide social distancing guidelines until at least April 30 prompted Arizona to join Kansas, Oklahoma, Virginia, New Mexico, and Vermont in shutting down schools for the remainder of the school year. California and New York are leaning in a similar direction, and almost every state has closed schools at least until the end of April. Over 55 million students in the United States are currently out of school. The prospect of nationwide school closures is no longer a matter of “if,” but “when.”

In the weeks since school closures commenced, the glaring inequities that have always existed in our educational system have been highlighted to the less familiar. Questions of access and equity have underlined the unprecedented nationwide shift to distance learning: how do we make sure students do not go hungry? How do we bridge the digital divide that impacts countless low income and rural communities? How do we effectively serve students with special learning needs whose needs were a struggle to meet even in a brick and mortar environment? How do we train millions of teachers overnight to use tech tools they were often reluctant to use before this crisis? Even if school systems miraculously fulfilled all these prerequisites to equitable distance learning, the “how” behind supporting student learning at home for students without enough family support in the process adds an almost insurmountable layer of complexity. Not to mention figuring out how to support students through all of the trauma, suffering, and fear that comes with working through the world’s largest health crisis in 100 years. Click here to read more

 

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