COVID-19 & Our Communities

The systemic inequities that are laid bare by COVID-19 increase the stressors on our students, our families and the most vulnerable in our communities. As we organize together for a better tomorrow, we are sharing ways that educators and allies are addressing the challenges and keeping us connected and caring for each other.

Community groups allied with educators adapt in COVID-19 reality

By Félix Pérez

Black, Latino, Indigenous and low-income communities have been hit especially hard by COVID -19, laying bare a host of longstanding structural and institutional inequities. But physical distancing and other COVID-related restrictions are not stopping local groups allied with educators from organizing and improvising in their communities.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has really shown the importance of schools as vital hubs for our students and families. They’re the social and emotional centers of our communities,” said Keith Brown, a middle school teacher and president of the Oakland Education Association in California. OEA members have made videos for parents and translated them into multiple languages, as well as created a curriculum on how to do wellness checks on students and families.

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Native Communities Disproportionately Affected by COVID-19 Pandemic

As the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to rise across the United States, the pandemic is hitting some tribal communities especially hard, underscoring existing health disparities, crowded housing conditions and water access issues that health experts fear could facilitate a devastating spread of the virus among Native Americans.

The virus has already hit the Navajo Nation especially hard, with more than 830 cases and 30 deaths as of April 21. In New Mexico, where Native Americans now make up more than 30 percent of the state’s COVID-19 cases, two pueblos of the Zuni Nation have some of the highest infection rates in the United States.

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COVID-19 & Immigrant Communities: Your Questions Answered

Every significant immigration issue that might affect students or educators, from DACA renewals to federal support of immigrant workers and their families, is impacted by the current COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, more than 200,000 DACA recipients – including nearly 15,000 educators and 29,000 health care workers – are working to protect our health and safety, ship critical products, staff grocery stores and ensure children are still being educated.

As the federal government and states come together to protect all communities struggling with the pandemic, smart public health and immigration policy responses are critical. Below are some key questions and answers about how COVID-19 is impacting students, educators, and our schools, as well as links to additional information and resources.

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In Response to COVID-19: A Checklist to Support LGBTQ Students During Distance Learning

During the COVID-19 quarantine, educators across the country are learning how to continue to provide a safe and affirming experience for LGBTQ students via distance learning. Recent data supports the need for educator action and focus:

According to HRC’s 2018 LGBTQ Youth Report:

  • 67% of LGBTQ students hear their families make negative comments about LGBTQ people.
  • While some students are open about their LGBTQ identity at school, only 21% are out at home.
  • Privacy and confidentiality are critically important for LGBTQ youth, especially for those who do not have supportive families. Extreme rejecting behaviors can have dire consequences: Approximately 40% of the homeless youth population in the United States identify as LGBTQ, most as a result of rejection by immediate family members.
  • Additionally, LGBTQ youth of color often face additional stress and adverse impacts on their health and well-being as a result of bias around their intersecting identities.

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Social and racial justice classroom, community resources: COVID-19 & more

While it might not seem like it, COVID-19 shall pass. What remains constant, however, is the need for learning and community resources related to social and racial justice, a statement made all the more relevant in light of the inequities laid bare by the pandemic.

Here are some resources for your students, your community and yourself:

COVID-19 & IMMIGRANT COMMUNITIES COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate on race, age, gender, or immigration status. Smart public health and immigration policy responses are critical. NEA’s Center for Social Justice has compiled some key questions and answers about how COVID-19 is affecting students, educators, DACA recipients and our schools, as well as additional information and resources.

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Resources

 

LGBTQ Youth

From the Human Rights Campaign: Resources for school counselors on supporting LGBTQ youth during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Sick Days & Paid Leave

Information from the National Women's Law Center on expanding paid sick days and paid family & medical leave in response to COVID-19.

View the PDF

Immigrants

From the National Immigrant Law Center: State and local advocacy for an immigrant-inclusive response to the COVID-19 crisis.

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