By Sam Piha
Many of the young people we serve in afterschool come from low-income communities, in both urban and rural settings. Many of these are communities of color. These communities have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Afterschool and summer learning programs were a lifeline for underserved communities before the pandemic and now they are more important than ever as families with limited resources struggle to adapt to newly designed school days and years.
Expanded learning opportunities that complement the school day will be key to helping all young people and their families through this crisis. In preparing for young people to return to our programs, it is important that we have a snapshot of how our children and families have been impacted by the pandemic.
“One of the certainties as we navigate through this pandemic is that all children will benefit from being well known, well cared for, and well prepared. Afterschool programs have a long history of designing programs based on what young people need in order to help them be healthier and more ready to learn. Together schools and community organizations can co-design the future of learning in ways that interrupt historic inequities and help all young people emerge from this crisis strong, resilient and hopeful.” - Tony Smith, former Illinois State Superintendent and Oakland Unified School District Superintendent
“The Impact of Coronavirus”, a five-part poll conducted by NPR, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, offers a national look at the problems emerging from the pandemic relating to household finances, jobs, health care, housing, transportation, caregiving, and well-being. Below are some of their key findings and you can learn more here.
The next step is considering what we need to do in afterschool to address the stresses related to these findings. To this end, we are sponsoring a webinar on Monday, March 29, 2021 entitled, “Helping Youth Thrive When They Return to Afterschool Programs Post COVID.” This webinar will be facilitated by Stu Semigran (EduCare Foundation) and features panelists Dr. Gil Noam (Harvard), Gloria Halley (Butte County Office of Education), Jose Luis Navarro IV (Principal and former California Teacher of the Year), and Autrilla Gillis (Director of Expanded Learning, ISANA Academies). You can click here to learn more about the webinar.
Sam Piha is the founder and principal of Temescal Associates, a consulting group dedicated to building the capacity of leaders and organizations in education and youth development.