Just a little over a month ago, New York State officially paused, with New York City schools closing on Monday, March 16th. I don’t think many of us envisioned how the next few weeks would unfold with the rapid rate of COVID-19 community spread that has brought with it unfathomable tragedy and disruption of life as we know it. As adults, it has been challenging to navigate this new normal which promises to linger for much longer than many of us had originally anticipated. As parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles and concerned individuals, we are witnessing how our children are adapting – and how they are struggling – and we are concerned about the impact this pandemic is having on them.
Like all students, our Beat the Odds juniors and seniors mourn the loss of long standing rituals like prom and graduation ceremonies. The seniors are excited to be entering college this fall, but the uncertainty about whether their campuses will even be open adds to their stress. They struggle to maintain their academic standings, even when their work stations might be a bed they share with a sibling. And everyone misses friends and former freedoms. But these losses are relatively insignificant compared to increased food insecurity, missed rent payments, interrupted relationships with therapists and other challenges associated with being poor and marginalized during this pandemic. These students and their families are not unique – they are representative of thousands of families across the state who are struggling to survive.
They motivate us to work harder and smarter and they sharpen our resolve, while informing and prioritizing our federal and state advocacy. We are fighting so that every family can live with dignity and have the ability to provide adequate food, shelter and health care for their children. Read about how we are addressing economic and health needs during the COVID-19 pandemic, and please consider joining us by supporting our students, their families and our work on their behalf.