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Why Our Black and Hispanic Student Families Are Being Disproportionally Affected by COVID19

young black girl on outside staircase with facemask on
 
As states take unprecedented measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the pandemic has shed a devastating light on the disproportionate impact of the virus on Black1 and Hispanic communities nationwide. 

Why is this the Case?
A new report from ProPublica cites the culpability of historical injustices as the driving forces. These forces include, but are not limited to:
  • Limited accessibility to and experiences of bias within the healthcare system
  • Higher incidents of compounded and generational chronic COVID-19 risk factors such as heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, kidney disease and asthma (which historically and generally account for shorter lifespans)
  • Residential segregation, redlining, and disinvestment in communities of color
  • The overrepresentation of people of color living in poverty

When Working with Students, Remember Context is Key
As almost every aspect of infrastructure around us seems to be crumbling, we’re not only left with public health and economic crises, but also housing and racial justice crises. 


While we commonly hear that our loved ones are “working from home,” this is a privilege from which not everyone can benefit. Many non-medical essential workers, such as grocery store staff and those who prep and deliver goods, are often low income and/or people of color. In terms of telework, living wages, paid time off, health and other benefits, they often experience the least flexibility. Research conducted by the Economic Policy Institute recently published the following findings:

  • Less than 30% of workers can work from home
  • When disaggregated by race, only 16.2% of Hispanic workers and 19.7% of Black workers can work from home – figures strikingly lower than their counterparts of other races
  • Low-wage workers have the least flexibility and find their jobs consistently at risk due to the inability to properly engage in social distancing while at work
  • Among all workers, only 34.9% of parents in households with children can telework. That means not only are their jobs vulnerable, but the care of their children may be as well

What Can You Do?

  • Continue to Extend Grace: Be patient and continue to nourish the relationships you’ve built with students and their families
  • Share Resources: Whether it be through email, various learning platforms, social media, or phone, share relevant information about how families can access critical needs and services in your community
  • Take advantage of the support ESC of Central Ohio offers: Check out our Professional Learning opportunities (many of them are free!), our Facebook page, and contact our staff directly about relevant legislative updates, webinars, communities of practice, book studies, and much more 

 

1We capitalize Black because of its designation as a racial category, and are careful not to use it interchangeably with African American, as it is representative of all individuals of the African Diaspora. 



Dr. Sierra Austin is a graduate of the Department of Women's and Gender Studies at The Ohio State University, with a focus on race and social justice. Sierra's research (done in our member district Columbus City Schools), activism, work focused on education equity and prioritizes operationalizing intersectional approaches to social change. She offers professional development through the ESC focused on equity, consultation, and community workshops.

 


 

Email Sierra to see how she can help support your school or district!