Philly should use the schools reopening debate to fix longer-term problems | Opinion

Written by on February 16, 2021

By Tajma Cameron |

As author Adrienne Maree Brown wrote, “Things are not getting worse, they are getting uncovered. We must hold each other tight and continue to pull back the veil.” For communities of color, COVID-19 has compounded the inequities prevalent in K-12 schools as virtual instruction has replaced face-to-face instruction for the foreseeable future. School closures and the transition to remote learning have resulted in millions of students losing access to education and crucial health resources.

While efforts have been focused on reopening Philadelphia schools, the district must be as focused on addressing the issues that were present before the pandemic and its long-term consequences.

COVID-19 has entrenched educational inequities for communities of color. In November, citing a surge in COVID-19 cases, Philadelphia schools reversed their decision to reopen school buildings, continuing virtual instruction until a later date. Ensuring the physical safety of students is paramount, making the decision to remain virtual during an uncontrolled pandemic prudent and necessary. But because of the preexisting lack of access to the internet and other services important for learning environments, students in communities of color have been disproportionately affected by school closures.

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