COVID-19 has exposed and exacerbated many of the inequities that persist in schools and school systems across the country. Minoritized students already had less access than their classmates to exceptional and enriched learning experiences led by well supported and trained teachers, in turn affecting their graduation rates and academic performance. Now, as school has moved into students’ homes, some students have access to online learning from home, while others do not have a computer or internet connectivity. Some students have family members at home who can provide enriching learning opportunities, while other students’ parents or guardians must work all day or night and are not as available to help with schoolwork. Some students are experiencing hunger and fear that their family will not be able to pay rent or electricity bills because of loss of income.
Given these growing gaps, as well as the flexibility that states and school systems have created for schools by canceling standardized exams and foregoing required grades and seat hours, there is an opportunity to reimagine what school could look, sound, and feel like when it is more equitable. The NYC Leadership Academy has created a guide to support principals and school system leaders in leading an equity-focused response to the ripple effect of COVID-19.