A Shared Vision for School and Health Equity During COVID and Beyond
March 25, 2021 | Written By: Rochelle Davis
One year ago, concerns over the new coronavirus forced schools across the country to close their doors. We all thought we’d see each other again before June.
There’s a lot we couldn’t have predicted back then, including how schools would become central to discussions around the pandemic and our national recovery.
Over the past year, we witnessed a growing appreciation for the resources that schools provide — and greater awareness that some school buildings, due to funding inequality and structural racism, have never been considered healthy for students and teachers.
I now find myself cautiously optimistic about the nation’s commitment to addressing longstanding school and health inequities that have been exacerbated by COVID-19. The American Rescue Plan, which President Biden signed last week, represents a significant response.
In addition to supporting schools as they reopen for in-person learning, the Act includes a number of anti-poverty measures that will help improve the lives of children and their families.
It’s an important first step, but it is only the beginning.
The pandemic focused attention on the importance of a healthy school environment — and forced a reckoning with the fact that many BIPOC students have never experienced a day in school with unlimited access to fresh air, safe drinking water and comprehensive health services.
HSC is committed to being part of a sustained effort to dismantle the inequitable foundation upon which so much of this has been built.
We advocated in The New York Times for federal funding so schools can upgrade aging facilities and improve indoor air quality and in the Washington Post for universal school meals.
Our work reflects a collective national urgency; it is also a reflection of our original core values and ideas for what makes a healthy school. I’m grateful more people and policymakers share our vision.