An Open Letter to our Community During COVID-19

Across the country, we are witnessing the exacerbation of existing flaws in our systems. Because of this, our most vulnerable populations will be hit the hardest and will need the greatest investment. Equity will continue to be a priority in education. Now is the time to think of purposeful action to ensure that when we do return to our “normal” schedules, we do not settle for the status quo.

On March 11th, the World Health Organization announced that COVID-19 is a global epidemic. We, with the rest of the world and nation, are processing what that means for our daily work, personal lives, and community. While taking the time to stop, for the sake of our mental health, we’re also working to find creative ways to foster community, build relationships centered in equity, and hold up one another in our work.

As we think of ways and strategies to support teachers, parents, families, and communities during this time, we are intentionally focusing on our most vulnerable populations. Our hearts are heavy knowing that our already unjust system will continue to hurt those groups of people we advocate most for, our underserved and marginalized communities.

We will continue to keep in our minds and hearts:

  • Teachers and administrators, who without any adequate training, are working relentlessly to design online learning schedules and curriculum.
  • Parents and caregivers who are at home dealing with multiple challenges, including being teachers to their children, balancing work responsibilities, cooking, cleaning and dealing with the emotional toll of this disruption.
  • Multilingual households that are lacking adequate access to resources to support their children.
  • Households that have lost income due to this crisis.
  • Medical workers who are on the front lines helping patients.
  • Essential workers, including but not limited to janitors, grocery store employees, and delivery folx, who are operating business as usual to ensure community members’ needs are met.
  • Our youth, who may already be facing hardship and are now adapting to new routines with short notice.
  • Populations at high risk of complications from the disease, are sick and/or might have lost loved ones already.

We recognize in these moments inequities are exposed and heightened. Across the country, we are witnessing the exacerbation of existing flaws in our systems. Because of this, our most vulnerable populations will be hit the hardest and will need the greatest investment. Equity will continue to be a priority in education. Now is the time to think of purposeful action to ensure that when we do return to our “normal” schedules, we do not settle for the status quo.

Let’s collaborate and reimagine the possibilities of how we learn, teach, and design our systems to eliminate barriers and inequities. At the Equity Institute, we constantly ask ourselves how are we centering equity during the transition to distance learning? What does the future of learning look like? How can we continue working with families and our communitie to support our students? How can we restructure what organizations look like?

As our daily lives are being drastically shifted and we work to redesign our personal and professional lives, let’s remember that we’re practicing physical distancing and social connections are important now, more than ever. Make sure to check in with co-worker, friends and family by calling or video chatting. I recently took a walk with a friend to have a conversation, and we made sure to stay six feet apart from each other. You can also send letters to friends, colleagues and families. We’ve sent a few ourselves to folx who participated in our March Twitter Meetup.

We hope that you and your loved ones stay healthy during this time. We will continue, with great urgency and commitment, to support educators and leaders in building equitable systems that allow all young people to thrive in their communities.

In appreciation,

Karla E. Vigil
CEO, Equity Institute

Carlon Howard
Chief Impact Officer, Equity Institute