The Politico headline reads, “Coronavirus quarantines could rob poor, rural students of access to education.” My professor then asks— If a peer told you that it is simply easy to stay at home during this crisis, how would you respond?
When reflecting on a graduate school class prompt from my professor I initially felt disbelief. Disbelief that there could possibly be someone in the world right now who would be so careless with language as to say that it is simply easy to stay home during the pandemic. Then, as I reflected more I acquiesced to the idea that yes, of course there is someone in the world thinking this way. Perhaps not a peer of mine, but in fact, there are many people who are probably thinking this way. There are all kinds of people in the world thinking all kinds of things. Many times those thoughts are callous and ill-willed towards another, tied to a desire to feel power over another. We’ve heard those kinds of thoughts even from the President of the United States.
With the idea now settling in my mind, the words flowed onto my digital page. My feelings more emotional now, and from a stance of wanting to shout from the rooftops to the injustice of the words themselves.
The stress of this time in our lives is real. It is affecting all of us, every person across the globe. Yet, there are some who are being affected in ways many that many will not only not experience, but equally are so far removed from what real stress is like at time like this that they can’t even comprehend what is even being talked about. The worry. The angst. The tears. Some of the most marginalized people in our society today–transgender, single Latino/Hispanic or African-American mothers, immigrant or Native American families, people and families living in poverty and were already stretched to the seams as it was before the virus even hit. Many have already lost any further viable means of income. Instead sweating nervously, and, or, simply weeping over answers that have not yet been provided. How will I pay my bills some are saying? Hoping an entity or a person will answer the call. How am I going to provide for my family? There are many who are managing multiple children in the household now who were normally in public school during the day. How can a person be expected to manage the needs of one, two, three or four children in a household of all ages without some support. School lesson plans or food on the table? School lesson plans or focusing on making money to provide for my children and family. These are the things many people are thinking about right now. Internet for access to online learning? What? I just want to keep the lights on.
What happens to the single-parents managing all of the responsibilities of a household yet depend on an hourly job at a local mom and pop that no longer exists? What happens for those who have no access to healthcare when the virus enters their community? What about all of this I ask? There is a divide between those who have access and those who do not. Access is everything. Period. Full Stop. Why would education for the country’s children during a global quarantine be any different?
Now as a budding social worker, and in a school myself, I have young clients. I am witness to their experiences by way of their sharing in story. I reflect on the importance of my role in helping to remove any barriers I am able to. Barriers that may inhibit access for them to live out lives they are so capable of creating.