The pandemic has impacted school enrollment and attendance significantly. Many schools continue to seek students who never returned after schools re-opened. Many are learning that many teens took jobs during the pandemic to help support their families. Here’s what has surfaced:
- Teens who have joined the workforce hail from families that are predominantly Hispanic and Black.
- They include front-line workers and first-generation immigrants who have borne the brunt of the job loss and economic hardship brought on by the pandemic
- Relief bill President Joe Biden signed last week aims to fill some of those gaps, providing most families up to $300 per week for each child through the end of 2021.
- Some students have been successful in balancing school and jobs, while others haved issues with time management.
- Balancing work and academics is harder in districts where schools have reopened.
- Teachers still can’t get in touch with many of the students who are supposed to be in classes.
- Students he can’t reach because of outdated phone numbers and addresses.
- Students may also be helping to watch or care for younger siblings.
- Some may have returned to work as businesses reopened.
- Some have resorted to non-traditional and sometimes unsafe jobs, like some young Black men in Atlanta have been surviving the pandemic as “water boys,” peddling cold drinks to motorists at freeway off-ramps.
- Nonprofit organizations state keeping up with those transitions in students’ lives is the most important thing that we can do.
- Some teachers are conduting weekly Zoom meetings or phone calls, making socially distant home visits, and even delivering internet hotspot to a student working.
- Working students want to keep helping with the bills, as their parents struggle with frustration and exhaustion.