Back to School During a Global Pandemic

Schools across the globe are having to weigh risking the safety of their communities by reopening in the fall, or potentially leaving learners without access to the internet completely behind. These effects are more greatly exacerbated by the presence of other risk factors such as race and LGBTQ+ status. Jane Barry-Moran, head of research at Out Leadership, sat down with a panel of experts to debate the pros and cons of school reopenings, and how schools’ might be able to navigate this safely. 


  • Social distancing is going to difficult for cognitive development in young children


A socially distanced education experience in the fall is going to change the ability for appropriate cognitive development in primary education as lesson plans can no longer include the sorts of physical interaction that is critical in building key skills in younger children


  • LGBTQ children are especially vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemic


Eliza Byard pointed out that with recent surveys showing that up to 15% of students identifying as LGBTQ more students than ever before are facing more risk factors in their education system. Keeping students from schools, a safe place for many students who may not have supportive home unit, can be incredibly harmful for LGBTQ youth


  • Virtual learning changes the way that we think about keeping our students safe 


Joe English identifies a small silver lining of virtual education in the fact that virtual education does not put students at risk of physical harassment from other students, an issue that many LGBTQ face while in school. But at the same time, it is much harder to cultivate a safe, inclusive environment while fully virtual. Instead, it is important that telehealth services and a broader mental health suite of resources for students in home.


  • Tech may not be the end-all be-all solution to learning during the COVID-19 pandemic


When shifting classes to the virtual world, it is essential that people recognize that there may not be a way for students to access the internet to be able to take advantage of this. With 58% of Americans living in areas where they express problems with obtaining internet access, we must consider  


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