The Educational Impact of COVID-19 on Black kids Will Be Generational

A young Black student working out a math problem (Photo credit: Shutterstock / Rido)

With the onset of massive school closings, mostly in large urban areas, many Black students will suffer the most from these decisions. Although last summer the CDC recommended that in-person school be implemented, many in the seats of policy ignored their suggestion. A recent report by the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) administering tests to more than 4.4 million U.S. students in grades three through eight this past fall, found that most scored an average of five to 10 percentile points behind students who took the same test last year under pandemic conditions. Not to mention, across the nation, major cities and many school districts across the country are reporting significant declines in enrollment. Most of these students are the most susceptible to not having in-person classroom instruction (homeless or children with disabilities for example).

Another factor is the decision many Black parents make, given that COVID disproportionally impacts Blacks more than Whites, to keep their kids at home knowing that remote learning may cause some students to fall behind.

According to a recent survey conducted in New Jersey, Black parents were more than two times as likely to keep learning remotely when compared to Whites. The main reason is that school districts with large Black populations remain closed, compared to other ethnic-racial areas in the state.

The most startling evidence of the impact of distant remote learning during the age of COVID-19 was revealed in a report by McKinsey & Company. It concluded that students of color will be nearly a year behind White and other ethnic groups due to this disruption.

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Black kids will be a lasting problem. As such, we need to prepare to make significant investments in efforts to deal with this outcome if we want to assert that education is the way for a successful future for our children.

Torrance Stephens is an infectious disease scientist. His essays can be found at

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