The President and CEO of Communities In Schools® (CIS), the national organization that empowers all students to stay in school and on a path to graduation, today issued the following statement about the growing number of school closures triggered by the coronavirus pandemic and the outsized impact on the nation’s most vulnerable students:
“Thousands of schools in America did not re-open this morning and this week our country will likely continue to see more announcements of school closures to prevent the increased spread of the coronavirus,” said Communities In Schools President and CEO Rey Saldaña. “While these are the right decisions from a public health perspective, we need to be mindful that these closures will have longer and more significant effects on millions of students whose families already confront economic and social inequities. So, the public and private sector must begin to consider extra interventions to ensure we are not widening gaps in equity and accessibility.
CIS professionals work inside schools in some of the most challenged communities in America and know that many of the students they support may not be able to take advantage of remote learning materials because they do not have connectivity at home. Their parents might not have transportation to pick up meals that schools are providing offsite for students. And they may have more difficulty getting some of the resources that our affiliates help provide in schools such as access to laundry facilities, medical and dental care or basic hygiene materials. Most importantly, as social distancing becomes a necessity, our students who cope with issues of trauma or anxiety might not be able to obtain some of the counseling or mental health services they depend upon."
Saldaña added, "Our professional staff across the country are already working on innovative solutions including meal deliveries, tele-counseling, identifying community resources for free or inexpensive WIFI, and regular phone calls or virtual check-ins with students. But we alone cannot solve these problems nor the inequalities that existed before this crisis and that may grow in the wake of this pandemic.
We ask other local nonprofits, faith-based organizations and business leaders to partner with CIS in their communities to prevent the disruption of essential supports and services and add additional capacity to meet the growing needs of students. And we encourage individuals to contact their local affiliate if they are able to offer support efforts to collect food items and supplies for families. If we work together, I believe we can ensure more of our nation’s most vulnerable students will continue to have access to the resources and caring relationships they need to realize their full potential in school and in life.”
To connect to a local Communities In Schools ® affiliate, visit www.communitiesinschools.org/affiliates
Communities In Schools (CIS) is the nation’s largest organization dedicated to empowering at-risk students to stay in school and on a path to a brighter future. Working directly inside more than 2,300 schools across the country, we connect kids to caring adults and community resources designed to help them succeed. We do whatever it takes to ensure that all kids—regardless of the challenges they may face—have what they need to realize their potential.