The pandemic has disproportionately affected Black and Latinx communities in a lot of ways, but it has been very apparent within the education system. The Little Rock School District opted to keep its schools open since the start of the pandemic, and Ms. A, a first-grade teacher, spoke on the impact it has had on her classroom.
“They don’t necessarily have the most reliable access to healthcare,” said Ms. A. “Even if they had equal access to healthcare, they don’t always have reliable transportation to get there, so the odds were against them to begin with.”
Ms. A expressed her frustration with the pandemic. Much of the community around the school is made up of Latinx immigrant and Black families, so classroom demographics are majority students of color. She has seen firsthand how negatively it has impacted her children.
“Digital divide is a real thing,” said Ms. A. “The district has tried to close that gap by providing hot spots to students if they don’t have the internet at home. This year has been better, but when we first left in March, that was a huge struggle.”
Many of her students’ parents are having to work around the clock, so they aren’t readily available to help their kids with virtual learning. This particular age group, six-year-olds, are more vulnerable due to not completely knowing how to navigate all the technology that has been put in place for successful virtual learning.
“Parents who grew up in the American public education system have more knowledge to navigate the technology we have provided, so those without that experience lack that knowledge to help their kids,” said Ms. A.
Aside from the extra workload that the pandemic created, such as having to record lessons already taught in class, Ms. A says that the socioeconomic status of her kids has also made teaching more difficult.
Although there are many negatives, Ms. A has noticed a lot of progression with students who log on consistently. Ms. A hopes that the district keeps helping underprivileged students through this pandemic.