Last fall, a poll released by the Kaiser Family Foundation and The Undefeated showed that seven out of 10 Black Americans believe that people are treated unfairly based on race or ethnicity when they seek medical care. It’s a belief rooted in centuries of mistreatment and institutional racism, from the infamous government-backed Tuskegee Syphilis Study that ran from the 1930s to the 1970s, (in which participants were tricked into believing they were receiving free medical care to treat syphilis, but were instead left untreated for decades and simply observed) to contemporary treatment disparities that result in outcomes such as markedly higher rates of maternal mortality among Black mothers.

This historic mistrust of powerful institutions — particularly public health institutions — directly impacts school reopening efforts during the pandemic. In February, the CDC issued guidelines on school reopenings that do not require teachers to be vaccinated. A Pew Research Study conducted that same month found that only 20 percent of Black adults felt that schools should reopen as soon as possible, even if not all teachers who wanted a vaccination had received it, compared to nearly half of White adults. Anecdotally, many Black parents I’ve heard from say they are not confident in their school district's ability to keep their child safe because in the past public health systems have disproportionately impacted Black communities in negative ways.

Read the full article about New Jersey schools supporting families of color by Gemar Mills at EdSurge.