COVID Shutdowns Hurt Homeless Students. School Reopenings Bring New Challenges.
Original article written by Marvin Joseph for TRUTHOUT
Despite the known challenges that American's have experienced due to the COVID-19 pandemic, homeless students continue facing more challenges with school re openings. Schools provide more than educational opportunities, this can include food and other resources that are readily available each day. “School has been the safest, most stable place in their lives,” the report, entitled “Lost in the Masked Shuffle and Virtual Void: Children and Youth Experiencing Homelessness Amidst the Pandemic,” concludes. “Without a home and without school, these students are at risk for losses that could last a lifetime.”
After losing their lifeline to food, clothing, laundry facilities and showers when schools closed their doors, many have floundered. In addition, 6.6 million kids lost in-person access to physical and mental health care when the country’s 2,500 school-based health centers were shuttered, and had to rely on telemedicine when and if it was offered.
Advocates emphasize that the pandemic and remote schooling have posed unique challenges for homeless students. Yet some have also seen benefits. Sonia L. Pitzi, the Region 3 coordinator for Children and Youth Experiencing Homelessness in eight central-Pennsylvania counties, notes that some homeless children actually preferred remote schooling.“Some of the kids had a hard time using the technology, but others actually thrived online,” she says. “They felt safer being away from the bullying and actually enjoyed connecting with other kids on Zoom. Meeting other kids who were homeless, kids they might never have met otherwise, was an added bonus.”
It is critical that we are cautious, listen and see how we can support families during the pandemic and continue as we recover from the pandemic.