Coronavirus: Nonprofit addresses challenges at-risk students face amid school closures

Food insecurity and limited access to technology are just two of the challenges some students face.
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The spread of the COVID-19 has had a disproportionate effect on low-income children and families, bringing to light the need for equity in education.

Food insecurity and limited access to technology are just two of the challenges.

Rey Saldaña, president and CEO of Communities In Schools, joined ABC7 to give us his perspective on how at-risk students are impacted by the pandemic.

What are you doing for students from low income communities facing school closures?
"Communities In Schools is an organization that places professionals - in almost as - we are a paramedics because we can triage for the most immediate needs, but it just points to how important the physical place of school is. As the intersection of where a student feels most safe, where they have the most predictable meal every day. And for students who are living on the edges of poverty and low income communities - we now have to get more creative than ever if we're gonna do anything about those students who typically and their families are suffering in silence. So our organization is really stepping up in innovative ways around texts and Zoom. And in many ways it is just, to be very honest, difficult to connect with these families because of the overcoming the gap of trust in a lot of these communities," said Saldana.

What needs to be done now to try to improve upon the educational inequities as the pandemic continues?
"We learn from the circumstance and we know that change is hard, but now it's going to be necessary with regard to this crisis. What I mean by that is not only do we recognize the digital divide that makes it difficult for us to provide equitable learning. It makes it difficult for us even just to connect with those families who we think are the most vulnerable of living in in tight communities where where their budgets are tight, they could be exposed to abuse or violence, both physical and emotional. And unpacking that when we come back to school is gonna be just as important as taking the temperature of our students. And so, the professionals in Communities In Schools and really all across our school districts should be implementing what's called integrated student support - those are those things around the students classrooms that are just as important for a student's success," said Saldana.

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