On March 9, 2021, D.C. Policy Center Wilkes Scholar Yanesia Norris was quoted and cited by WAMU:
Students who live in Ward 7 and 8, majority-Black parts of the city with large concentrations of low-income families and high numbers of frontline workers, are at higher risk of contracting the coronavirus, according to an analysis from the D.C. Policy Center, a non-partisan think tank.
But illness is just one challenge some students have had to confront during the pandemic.
Two members of the D.C. State Board of Education said during a February meeting some older students are taking jobs during the school day instead of attending virtual classes.
In Wards 7 and 8, more than 37% of families with children have incomes that fall below the federal poverty level, which is $26,500 for a family of four, according to the D.C. Policy Center. During a pandemic that has led to record levels of joblessness across the Washington region, families in those two wards also face the highest levels of unemployment in the city.
Yanesia Norris, an education consultant who conducted the analysis, found higher unemployment levels could lead to a lack of stability at home and fewer resources crucial for distance learning, such as the internet.
Much of the conversation around education during the pandemic is dominated by the debate about reopening classrooms, she added. Less attention is being given to pandemic-related challenges that have created obstacles to students’ learning.
“Students’ real life experiences are being left out of the conversation and out of decision-making processes,” Norris said.