Another COVID-19 Challenge: Homeschooling
The Naked
Truth
by Jamala Rogers
Almost overnight, COVID-19 forced tens of thousands of businesses — big and small — to shutter their doors. Millions of workers were thrown into
the ranks of the unemployed. Thanks to the pandemic, parents and grandparents were thrust into new roles: to become teachers to their stay-at-
home children. This new role has only added to the stress and strain already created by the virus.

I don’t know what situation is more challenging. Those parents who are working from home and schooling children. Or. The parents with no job and
schooling their children. You may say at least the former gets a paycheck. Whether parents have formal education (degrees) or not, both are
struggling through pre-algebra and Latin.
Wisconsin has nearly a million public and private students in its system. Students coming from families who are educated and financially stable
will fare better than families who received miseducation and who were living paycheck by paycheck before the coronavirus.


We know that public school students are not showing up for the online classes. From the U.S. Census and other sources, we also know that most
of them do not have internet services or computers at home. How is this situation — well-known before the pandemic — being addressed in our
struggling communities?


My concern is that given the lack of access to instructional resources, along with the mental and educational capacity of many poor and working-
class families, this current semester will be a critical setback. Students coming from impoverished homes struggle academically without a nasty
virus on the scene. If there is no summer school to make up for the loss of second semester, we can count on the academic achievement gap
widening.
Significant research has been done on the backsliding of poor
students during the summer break. While parents with resources
enroll their kids in computer camps, thespian teams, sports
leagues or travel aboard, too many poor kids spend hours
watching TV or playing outside unsupervised. Any instructional
gains made during the first semester are now in question.


I’m concerned that students don’t have internet or devices to do
their assignments. But I’m equally concerned about the increase
in child abuse (sexual and physical). I’m concerned about
domestic abuse. I’m concerned about the increase of drug and
alcohol abuse. I’m concerned about hunger. I’m concerned about
unhoused families. I’m concerned about students with no one to
help them with homework. All these pre-existing conditions in
vulnerable communities just got ten times worse under COVID-19.

Our communities will have to develop some creative strategies
now. Kids trying to learn in an environment where tensions are
flaring because of no jobs, no money, no food, no recreation
outlets, and a lot of other no’s is unsustainable. We know these
families; they may even be our own family.

COVID-19 is pushing us all into a pressure cooker, but the
intensity of impact will be based upon your status before the virus
and your access to resources now. The graphic suffering and the
long-term consequences to COVID-19 will live vividly in
communities of color, especially those wrapped in poverty. There
are challenges to what we can do to mobilize and organize during
the coronavirus crisis. Doing nothing is not an option.
There are organized efforts to influence policies and practices
going on in your area that need your active response. We must
find safe ways to comfort and support our youth, our elders and
everyone in between. Resiliency only happens when people act in
compassionate coordination.