When schools closed in March, Alexandria Zoungrana was uneasy. For the senior at Manual High School in Denver Public Schools, having school entirely online was foreign to her — and to her teachers.

“Being isolated at home and away from your teachers and peers took away that collaborative and comforting work space that you would get being able to interact with your teachers,” said Zoungrana, who is African American.

Zoungrana is not alone in her experience. In a YouthTruth survey taken between May and June by more than 20,000 students in nine states in grades 5-12, students cited distractions at home and feeling stressed, anxious or depressed as their top obstacles during distance learning.

But for low-income students of color, school shutdowns and remote learning have been particularly difficult. Even prior to the pandemic, students of color, particularly Black learners, faced disproportionate exclusionary discipline rates that studies show are linked to increasing Black-White achievement gaps, as well as a homework gap.

In addition to the disrupted spring semester, many Black students and their families, especially, are dealing with another trauma. Following the police-involved deaths of two Black Americans, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, students of color are grappling with “the dual challenge of responding to COVID and the racial reckoning” that has swept the nation.

All these reasons are why Manual High School Assistant Principal Whitney Weathers said she and her team are determined to make sure their students connect with one teacher at least once a week this fall — especially because she discovered her Black students were four times less likely to be contacted by their teachers during spring closures.

Read the full article about low-income students of color during COVID-19 by Naaz Modan at Education Dive.