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Education leader joins conversation about inequities experienced by minority students during pandemic

Published: Sep. 29, 2021 at 5:53 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - The dean of students at G.W. Carver Middle School, Elijah Barefield, has joined health and education leaders across Texas who are raising awareness about the inequities suffered by students of color during the pandemic.

During the monthly roundtable that launched Wednesday, the panel said African American and Hispanic communities suffer higher rates of COVID-19 infections and COVID-19 related death, causing community-wide trauma.

American Indians and Alaska Natives as well as black children were 3.5 and 2.7 times more likely to die from the virus than white children, respectively, according to a recent analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The CEO and President of “Children at Risk” said kids are no exception to the disproportionate impacts of the pandemic.

“Whether it’s lack of internet access, falling behind in school, the impact on the income of our families, all of our children, certainly those from low-income families and especially Latino and African American kids have been greatly affected,” Dr. Bob Sanborn, President and CEO of Children at Risk, said.

During the “Racial Equity Rapid Roundtable”, a major focus is how the pandemic has created a snowball effect on students of color psychologically and in their studies.

“Having to go home, missing lessons, we are seeing pandemic learning losses, widened technological gaps,” Sharon Watkins Jones, Director of the Texas Racial Equity Collaborative, said.

“For children of color, we are expecting 6-12 months of learning loss or more,” Sanborn said.

“When we are talking about white students, it’s 5-8 so there’s certainly a difference.”

The impacts can be seen in Waco.

“The first person to pass in McLennan County last year from COVID-19 was the principal of G.W. Carver and so it has hit us very hard and is very personal,” Elijah Barefield, Dean of Students, Carver Middle School-Waco ISD, said.

In hopes of closing the gaps of racial inequities, the panel said they want to see the use of school resources for those who need it most.

“We have an after-school program, our ACE program, where kids get to go in there, do fun activities but they also get to make up for time with learning,” Barefield said.

“For the relationship part, we offer social and emotional learning classes.”

They said students need to feel safe and supported as the pandemic continues.

To listen in to the full conversation hosted by the group “Children at Risk”, click here.

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