Learning to be grateful in the time of Covid-19

Image+via+Unsplash

Dylan Ferreira

Image via Unsplash

As the school day came to a close on Friday, March 13th, students continued their work during third period looking forward to the weekend. These expectations to end the day like usual were shattered when teachers arrived bearing heavy news: from that moment forward, all IUSD schools would be making a transition to distance learning. It was official: school was shutting down.

When faced with the news of school shut down, IUSD students were overcome with the initial happiness of not having to go to school everyday. But too many have no consideration for how these school closures will severely impact low-income families. Students should be grateful for the steps IUSD takes to ease the impacts of school closures, which are seen across the nation.

With schools shutting down, communities relying on schools for free breakfasts and lunches may go without meals. Each day, the National School Lunch Program serves over 30 million children, the School Breakfast Program serves over 14.7 million children and the Child and Adult Care Food Program serves over 6.1 million children. These services are especially important for children from low-income homes, those who are homeless and those with disabilities.

But as schools close, many districts have stepped in to fill community needs—including IUSD. In an effort to ease the impact of school shutdown, the district provided free breakfasts and lunches on Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays since April 6th. For families in need of long-term assistance, IUSD connected with Families Forward to set up a drive-thru food pantry throughout Monday and Friday. These acts of social responsibility are a major leap forward in making sure that the community is fed, healthy and able to deal with the current coronavirus crisis. As students of IUSD, we should be aware of our privileges and the many services the district is offering for the good of the community.

Aside from the food insecurity and childcare services that many American families are struggling with, school shutdowns have also prompted education to shift online, which is problematic for low-income families who can’t afford the necessary technology. Nationwide, 14% of households with school-age children do not have internet access, which poses several challenges for remote instruction.

Thankfully, IUSD has provided a response to most of this.  Students without ready access to technology at home can go to their school to “rent out” Chromebooks and chargers on Monday and Tuesday. Since March 17, IUSD has distributed nearly 6,000 Chromebooks to students without access to technology.

Amidst the pandemic, millions of Americans nationwide don’t have access to many of the resources students of IUSD are fortunate enough to have at their will. Because most Irvine students are raised with the privilege to afford three meals a day and are surrounded by fellow students of surplus, too often we fail to consider the other side of the economic spectrum. Even here in Irvine, there are plenty of families who are struggling financially. This is a hard time for everyone, so we should be more aware of how fortunate of a position we are in.