I was excited to hear that the Chicago Board of Education was going to have a graduation ceremony for the high school senior graduates in the city of Chicago. However, I am concerned that the families of some of our graduating seniors still won’t have access to that celebration. The Board has done a phenomenal job of trying to get families of Chicago Public School students connected virtually as we face the challenges of the Coronavirus pandemic. The city and some of our local internet service providers have contributed tremendously to this effort, but more needs to be done.
The most disadvantaged communities in the city are still suffering in the area of virtual communication. There are still families without computer and internet access. Devices have been made available, but there are not enough. Some parents didn’t want to take responsibility for the devices. Most disturbing is the vast number of homeless students. Can we guarantee that homeless students' family members will have a technical set-up to watch the ceremony?
Both Remote Learning and the Virtual Graduation are systemically unfair to some of our most vulnerable families. As we continue to fight our way out of this pandemic we MUST continue to build a bridge to families. The Governor has already stated that this may continue well into next school year and we still have a large number of students who have not gotten virtually connected as of yet.
A continuous effort needs to happen. I think we must connect the community organizations with the neighborhood schools to assist in making sure every single student is virtually connected to help us close the digital divide plaguing our communities, even after this pandemic has been contained.