Opportunity gaps and pandemic recovery | March 23-29, 2022


So far, March 2022 has brought about a series of upsetting moments and roller coasters. Geopolitical events aside, locally we felt like we were collectively moving slowly, like we weren’t making sudden moves that would incur the wrath of 2022. To be honest, that wasn’t the start of the day. easier than a decade.

That said, it’s encouraging to see a two-year-old global pandemic finally moving in a better direction. My concern, of course, is how we transition. The weight of the past two years has fallen disproportionately on people who have historically been excluded and marginalized from power to begin with. This really came to mind with the recent contention between Seattle Public Schools and the Seattle Education Association over changes to mask use ahead of Spring Break, which could lead to an increase in COVID cases. -19.

Under ideal conditions, this would make sense. However, it seems that in returning to a pre-pandemic reality, there is little emphasis on intentionally addressing structural barriers to meeting the material needs of people who struggled before the pandemic began. In truth, people could fare worse post-pandemic if this core issue continues to go unresolved.

Sticking with the theme of education, it reminded me of a policy brief recently released by the University of Washington (UW) in mid-March. The short research summary, part of the UW Latino Center for Health’s series of COVID-19 Policy Briefs, presented findings from the survey, “Understanding Washington Latinos’ Experiences Around COVID- 19,” which surveyed Latinos across the state. Early results indicate that for families with new childcare and education responsibilities, 77% reported having reduced income, 52% reported reduced hours, and 83% reported not being able to work at home. residence. Similarly, although around 86% of respondents said they had internet, only 44% said they had high-speed internet access and only 58% said they owned a computer or tablet. The majority – around 76% – accessed the Internet via mobile phones.

In sum, the report illustrates the challenges of equitable access to educational resources, in addition to having to settle for fewer monetary resources. As such, the effect of the pandemic will have an impact that will reverberate long after the COVID-19 restrictions have expired. This is remarkable considering that 1 in 5 children in Washington State is of Latinx ancestry. It is safe to assume that this dynamic will also impact other communities facing similar economic and technological challenges.

We must be intentional to collectively tackle this byproduct of the pandemic. This also goes beyond the realm of education. Housing and food insecurity will also have a deleterious impact on our communities. Let us ensure that all receive immediate material assistance.

Oscar Rosales grew up in the Yakima Valley and works and resides in Seattle.


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