The novel coronavirus or COVID-19 has having an impact on us all. We are specifically concerned about how it will affect kids, families and communities in the aftermath. Over the next year we must minimize the economic fallout on families and ensure that youth are not subject to over-policing as they emerge from social distancing. We must maximize the impact of recent reforms, particularly the Blueprint for Education, and lay a foundation for building a more equitable, 21st century school system. And we must lay a foundation now to ensure that the disruptions children are experiencing do not undermine their economic security, mental and emotional health, and academic success for the rest of their lives. Here are some of the statistics that represent the lives that have been disrupted during this health crisis. These are lives we hope to change for the better. For instance:
Children in grades K-12 in Maryland’s public schools
Children in schools who are disabled ( IEP/504 plans)
Children who are free/reduce meals
Total number of Marylanders for Unemployment Insurance in March 2020
Total number of Marylanders who applied for rental assistance from calling 211
What can we possibly to do mitigate the negative effects of the COVID-19 health crisis? Here are thoughts below:
Health care, food, and shelter
• The state must take action to ensure that as many families as possible have access to health care by helping individuals enroll in insurance programs and expanding Medicaid coverage and expanding services through telemedicine, homebased care, and supports for individuals experiencing homelessness.
• The federal and state government must ensure that economic supports, including relief checks, unemployment assistance, and sick and paid leave policies are implemented aggressively to ensure no families are left without assistance.
• State and local governments must maximize federal waivers to have the utmost flexibility in providing meals to children and youth experiencing food insecurity.
• Higher education institutions must reimburse students for the disrupted semester and address the needs of youth experiencing housing insecurity or at risk of homelessness.
• State and local governments must continue to promote robust census responses particularly for families with young children.
Safety and protection from harm
• Youth institutions, such as congregate care for foster youth or correctional facilities housing youth in the justice system, must provide adequate staff and robust health protocols to keep our youth safe.
• Youth institutions must ensure youth have the social, mental health, and academic supports needed to thrive during these stressful times, including ensuring youth have remote access to key providers and family.
• Courts must have a plan for considering cases that impact youth, including well-being decisions and plans for permanency.
• Youth should be protected from over-policing or unnecessary exposure to the justice system as police are directed to disperse crowds and disrupt gatherings.
• Protections need to be established for children and youth at risk of violence or abuse at home, especially as caregivers face mounting stress and teachers and other providers are no longer able to report suspected abuse.
• Childcare centers need supports to remain open through the immediate shutdown, and children of essential personnel need immediate access to quality care.
• The State Board of Education must utilize federal waivers, particularly around standardized tests, and develop equitable remote learning procedures that ensure every student has access to the technological and internet infrastructure they need
• The State Board of Education and local school systems must implement best practices to support student populations most at risk of disconnecting from school amidst this crisis, particularly students with disabilities, English language learners, those who are expectant or parenting, those experiencing housing instability or homelessness, and those in the care of the Department of Juvenile Services or local Departments of Social Services
• School systems must establish communications systems with students and parents that are accessible and allow for feedback.
• Higher education institutions must implement a Pass/Fail requirement in the event of an outbreak to ensure educational equity for all students, particularly those facing challenges such as homelessness, food insecurity, and mental illness.
There are several local, state and federal resources that we think will be helpful to you.
Coronavirus State Updates
Center for Disease Control and Prevention