Giving Compass' Take:

• Homeless students were dependent on wraparound services that schools could provide before COVID-19.

• Educators are also concerned about getting in touch with homeless students and being able to offer access to supportive services. How can donors work with school districts to help vulnerable students?

• Read more about the struggle for homeless students amid the COVID-19 crisis. 

The district and schools have put a priority on helping homeless students — those in shared or temporary quarters, in shelters, or on the streets. As of last Friday, Chicago Public Schools had given out more than 6 million meals to families at hundreds of schools. Last week, the district announced it would provide 12,000 internet hotspots, at a cost of $2.5 million, to students who are homeless to help in their education. The devices come with four months of free internet.

In addition to providing meals and technology for students to access learning, the district has given school leaders guidance on how to shape their remote learning curriculum for homeless students. But ultimately, responses depend on the school.

“Students probably have smaller cramped spaces and are not able to really set up learning spaces that some of their peers may be able to,” said Molly Burke, executive director of the district’s office of engagement. In planning services, the district is considering that highly mobile families may not take school supplies and projects with them from space to space, depending on their storage capacity.

Despite the devices the district is providing, advocates remain concerned. “A lot of our schools provide laundry services for families. Some schools have also provided showers for families. We can’t do any of that anymore. We’re providing food on a daily basis, but are we providing toilet paper and cleaning supplies? I highly doubt it,” said Sarah Rothschild, education policy analyst at the Chicago Teachers Union.

Read the full article about homeless students by Samantha Smylie at Chalkbeat.