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Local News
Rachel Czeisler

Imagine being unable to attend school every day, getting separated from your friends, and losing the opportunity to learn to read and write. This unimaginable situation is currently affecting a number of children in New York City. The COVID-19 pandemic is a major issue that has affected everyone, but many people are not aware of certain social complications caused by the pandemic. COVID-19 is preventing many young homeless students from receiving a full academic experience in school. According to recent studies by Advocates of Children (AFC), around 73 percent of homeless students’ school attendance has plunged and worsened throughout the pandemic. 

Even during the 2019-2020 academic year, before COVID-19 lockdowns, only 83 percent of homeless children attended school according to the Architects Council of New York (ACNY). The issue of attendance rates among NYC homeless students was exacerbated by COVID-19 because students in New York City's homeless shelters had reduced access to technology, making it much harder for them to access remote classes in comparison to their classmates. Thus, remote learning worsened the academic experience of many homeless students. 

Attendance rates are also plummeting since shelter-based safety net systems, that protect homeless children from harm and danger, are lacking support due to the pandemic. COVID-19 caused a significant decrease in workers at the shelters. Jennifer Pringle, a director of AFC, has been dedicated to protecting every child's right to an education and ensuring that homeless students attend school. Pringle explains that students may reconnect with their schools and get back on track if New York City hires committed workers trained to help homeless students gain access to education.

To further address the issue at hand, plans have been made by the Department of Education to use federal funds to increase services for students living in shelters. The ACNY has also promised to explore additional funding to ensure homeless students are safe and academically engaged at school. 

According to ACNY, roughly 30,000 kids spend time living in homeless shelters each year; all these students must have a fair shot at attending school and deserve access to an educational experience, no matter their standard of living. As Jennifer Pringle stated, “Children get one shot at a quality education, and every day a student is absent is a day of instruction they can never get back.”

Children are at an age where their brains are still growing and developing. During this process, children must be in social and academic surroundings to help their development. While education should be guaranteed for all, many homeless students in New York City don't have the fundamental privilege of going to school every day. It is crucial that these homeless students get the education they deserve. 

Works cited:

  1. Selim Algar, October 18, 2021. NYC homeless student attendance drops sharply so far this school year.

  1. Alejandra O'Connell-Domenech, October 19, 2021. Homeless public school students’ attendance rate drops dramatically at start of year, report finds.

  1. Precious Fondren, October 19, 2021. Attendance falls for homeless students in N.Y.C., in part because of the pandemic, a study shows.

NYC Homeless Students Attendance Drops: Academics
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