The integral role that schools play in the lives of students experiencing homelessness and the many challenges they face have never been clearer as the threat of coronavirus continues to grow and schools across the country close. Below are ten things to keep in mind about homeless students amid the COVID-19 crisis.

Students and families experiencing homelessness often:

  1. Rely on schools as a vital source of food.
  2. Have limited childcare options outside of schools.
  3. Face many challenges in attending class consistently and remaining engaged in school.
  4. Struggle academically.
  5. Do not have access to the internet and a personal computer.
  6. Face language barriers.
  7. Have special education needs.
  8. Face worse health outcomes and have less access to health professionals.
  9. Face many challenges to their mental health and well-being.
  10. Rely on school as a source of stability in an otherwise unstable life.

The disadvantages faced by students and families experiencing homelessness have only been intensified by the realities of the COVID-19 crisis. While school closures prove necessary, the absence of the essential resources they provide and the scramble by schools and communities to fill these needs highlights a lack of stable infrastructure in place to support this vulnerable population.

As this crisis continues, the needs of these students must be at the forefront of policy interventions. When recovery eventually begins, policymakers, schools, and service providers cannot afford to ignore the inequities that have come to light during this crisis and the long-lasting impact of this unanticipated educational disruption, nor can they fail to address the preexisting disadvantages faced by students experiencing homelessness.

Read the full article about homeless students in the COVID-19 crisis by Katie Puello at the Institute for Children, Poverty, and Homelessness.