Indy minority parents create committee to weigh in on schools reopening this fall

Education

INDIANAPOLIS– Local minority parents are weighing in on the decision to reopen schools this fall.  In an open letter, parents are calling out concerns they have knowing the impact of COVID-19 has had on the black community.

The committee of parents want the attention of not only their schools, but Gov. Holcomb’s office and other state leaders as they have seen firsthand the struggles their kids have endured and what they believe will help get them back on track safely.

“As a parent, yes, I felt like it was important for me to make sure my voice was heard,” said Swantella Nelson.

Nelson wants school leaders not to rush the decision to get kids back in the classroom.

“We need to know, how are they going to make up for this learning loss,” asked Nelson. “What is the plan for them to do that?”

She’s seen the impact of COVID-19 on families and that’s why she, along with 14 other local parents, released their perspective today through this document.

“It’s hit the black and brown community worse than any other community,” said Nelson. “Parents who are voicing these issues, voicing these concerns, bringing light to issues that people may have been ignoring or just don’t know about. I want to be a part of that.”

The committee of parents want a flexible approach. They believe districts should re-envision the school calendar, even if that means additional hours of instruction. They’re asking that schools put in place strict health and safety protocols – by having the proper staff to have a nurse in every building.

According to Stand for Children Indiana, here are the listed recommendations:

  • Put in place strict health and safety protocols.
  • Ensure schools are very intentional in the first several weeks of the new year to understand student needs – both academic and social and emotional – and to focus on teacher-parent partnerships.
  • Completely re-envision the school calendar to adapt to the COVID-19 reality.
  • Think creatively about teacher roles to ensure schools are set up to effectively deliver instruction remotely.

“I need to know that for sure this is happening and until I do I need to know that I have the option to keep her at home doing the home learning,” Nelson added.

Ashley Thomas is the Regional Organizing Director for Stand for Children Indiana. She believes schools need to open back up, but parents have to be part of the conversation.

“Black and brown families, predominantly low income communities, those tend to be the ones impacted the most when we talk about achievement gap or opportunity gap,” said Thomas. “When we talk about the gaps, parents are going to be those game changers to bring those voices to the table, the power is with the people, and those are the parents.”

The committee believes schools should also prepare to talk with kids facing trauma stemming from the death of George Floyd and dialogue that’s come from it.

“Help guide them and help explain to them what is going on and if they are able to, why?” Nelson said.

The parents mission is to ensure every day and every child counts, and that’s why that’s the name of their document that they hope begins to get some attention.

“Parents have to be one of those stakeholders at the table,” said Thomas.

Click here to read the full document by the committee of parents and Stand for Children Indiana.

For the list of guidelines presented by the Indiana Department of Education, click here.

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