This school year was tough on everyone: parents, students, teachers and school leaders. But it was disproportionately hard on communities of color. High rates of COVID-19, poor access to healthcare, food insecurity, lost wages, threats of eviction, racial violence… the list goes on.
The traumatic events families have endured over the last year are among the key factors that cause children to experience “toxic stress.” Research shows that toxic stress can derail student learning and delay child development. So as educators prepare to fully reopen next school year, we must design supportive school communities and classrooms that truly care for the whole child.
To fully engage in their learning, children must feel safe, valued and understood. We cannot accelerate learning when kids return to campus if we don’t put relationships at the center of our school models. And one model provides a blueprint for how public schools can build back stronger: Community schools.