Students who are most vulnerable to disruptions in schooling experience the greatest impact

Even though schools are back in full swing across the nation, the complications caused by the pandemic persist. They often fall hardest on the most vulnerable: families without transportation or people with limited incomes, people who speak English and people with special needs.

Students who are most vulnerable to disruptions in schooling experience the greatest impact

Coronavirus outbreaks at school and individual quarantine orders for students who are exposed to the virus can make it difficult for them to attend class on any given day. Many families aren't sure where to look or how to reach them.

Sometimes, driver shortages can lead to the school bus not turning up.

Keiona Morris, a McKeesport resident who doesn't have a car, had to leave her children at home when the bus did not arrive. She said that her two sons have missed two weeks of school because of these disruptions.

She said that taking her older son to school with the civic bus system would have consequences for her ability to return home in time to pick up her youngest child at elementary school.

Morris stated, "I feel like my kid is being left behind." "Sometimes, it feels like he isn't important enough to be picked up."

It's not a matter that the family doesn't have the resources to fix the problems in the public school system. Others are not informed about programs such as those that allow students to return to school even if they have been exposed to virus, provided they do not test positive for infection.

While some students are able to keep up with school via remote access during quarantines, others may not receive any instruction or have no internet or other means of connecting.

Districts must consider the disproportionate burden when seeking solutions, according to Bree Dussault, principal at The Center on Reinventing Public Education, University of Washington.

She stated, "If you're using a test to shorten quarantine then all students should have equal access to that test."

Morris didn't receive an email notice in the early morning that her son's bus was being canceled. Instead, she waited at the stop hoping for a ride.

Her children are more interested in learning when they're together than if she stays at home. She said that the makeup they did on the days when their bus was cancelled and they were unable to access the lesson the next day put them behind in class.

She said that her older son struggled with the transition from middle school to middle school. He also missed out on social aspects such as being with his peers.

Robert Balfanz, a researcher at Johns Hopkins University School of Education, stated that the effects of unpredicted stretches at home can mimic chronic absenteism and cause long-term learning problems.

Balfanz stated that "the irregularity in your attendance is as important" as the total amount of missed classes. It lingers because you miss important moments of learning upon which everything else is built, and this can lead to frustrations later on."

Unstructured learning periods at home can be unpredictable and unstructured for some families. Some families are more fortunate than others to have received greater guidance.

Sarah Niebuhr Rubin sent her son home from Seattle for two weeks after he was diagnosed with possible viral exposure. Rubin stated that her son was not provided with any consistent reading services or live instruction because he was considered an excused absence. However, he did receive two sessions with specialists who made every effort to meet him.

She said that he would struggle to finish his work without supervision. This is something she couldn't provide while working remotely.

Rubin stated, "There was really nothing." Rubin said that her son was returning to school when she returned with the feeling of th

Some districts offer a "test-to-stay" option that allows children to remain in school even if they are exposed to COVID-19 positive. This helps to reduce the number of days spent out of school.

Students who are being tested in Georgia's Marietta City Schools are taken to a central location where they undergo a quick antigen test. Students who have a negative result can return to school the same day. Students who have a positive test are sent to quarantine.

Superintendent Grant Rivera stated that between 30% and 40% of eligible students are enrolled. The district is working to find barriers for families to gain access. Many cited time and transportation constraints as well as work schedules as obstacles.

Rivera stated that about 25% of families didn't know of the program. The testing program is made available to parents when their child becomes a close friend. District follows up by sending an email.

Rivera explained that it was like an input overload and shock when Rivera made the initial phone call. Rivera stated, "What are you going to do for my child, childcare, and work?" "We are following up with an electronic mail, but in a district that has a high ESL immigrant community, the email might not be understood or not being received by everyone in the family.

Rivera stated that he hopes to increase messaging through community partners as well as other methods such as texting.

Parents are worried about the possibility of more disruptions.

Firefighters in McKeesport volunteered to drive McKeesport children to school for a time. Morris' bus was on time recently. She worries that her son and she will be waiting for the bus again.

Morris stated that "I worry that it will happen again." "And if it happens, I'm going to be ready pull my children out of school and homeschool them. Even though it will be more difficult for me."

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