Adjusting to new social and educational realities
Student Perspective
By | Jennifer & Jessica Aggrey

Reading the first paragraph, we wonder what the writer means by “It is no surprise that we are in a global crisis.” Just in early March 2020, Colorado was still living almost oblivious to the virus. Schools were still open, and people rarely put on masks. Our mother had even traveled from Denver to Ghana, West Africa a month prior in February, so it certainly did come as a surprise to us when schools were abruptly closed just weeks later.

We agree with the writer’s assertion that “unique” family “experiences” are made more obvious due to the whole coronavirus situation. Since most schools transitioned to the virtual setting, we’ve heard of students who have to babysit and help their siblings while also helping their younger siblings. This becomes problematic when students are forced to turn on cameras during remote learning, as well as when they are asked to contribute verbally to the class, only for there to be sounds of children in the background when they unmute their microphone. We’ve seen students that have had to do online school in closets just to fulfill the need to be in a quiet environment. We’ve also heard of students who had to buy their own computers in order to do online school. As twin sisters who attend to a school where laptops are distributed to every single student at the beginning of the year, this was especially concerning to us, The inequitable school systems of Colorado may actually be making the pandemic harder for different populations of students to deal with.

One example of this that we would like to note is the amount of support during college applications that seniors are receiving during the pandemic. Prior to the emergence of COVID-19, our high school had a stellar reputation for providing 12th grade students with quality college counsel during the college application process. Fortunately, my college counselors have been able to adapt to the pandemic, and have been aiding seniors via Microsoft Teams. For instance, our college counselors hold virtual College Success seminars every other Wednesday for the sole purpose of assisting 12th graders with their college applications, as well as financial aid and scholarship opportunities. Our college counselors started setting meetings with us and other students in July 2020, weeks before the academic year even started. With this support, we have are able to start applying to scholarships as well as get personalized feedback on our personal statements months before we even started the college applications. However, not all high schools in Colorado are providing their students with this amount of support. In fact, as of October 2020, a few of our friends in neighboring schools had not even completed– or in worse cases, started– their personal statements. The pandemic already has students unsure of their future and what it may hold, so it’s essential that twelfth graders are receiving support during their transition from high school to college, a time that also comes with its own sense of uncertainty.

As mentioned in the article, many parents find it difficult to pay electricity bills. This hardship definitely expands towards Wi-Fi expenses. On morning we write this, the Daily Mail website published the story of a nine-year-old boy who has to sit outside his school every morning in order to use his school’s Wi-Fi and participate in online school. Fortunately for him, he lives within walking distance from his school, so he didn’t have to travel far. As a result of his story going viral, a good samaritan offered to pay for Wi-Fi in his house. However, there is a very high chance that there are other children having to sit outside their schools in order to get an education during this pandemic. What happens to them when it becomes too cold to be outside? What happens to other children who do not live within walking distance of their schools? It is very critical during this time that the government provides assistance to the families that cannot afford to provide their children a stable environment for online school. No student should have to go through these obstacles in order to receive an education.

Ultimately, as emphasized in the article, the issue of inequity has become more prominent during the pandemic. Many families have been left on their own to live with the many obstacles that the coronavirus has brought along. It’s important that the inequities in Colorado, as well as the whole country’s school systems, are not only acknowledged but also addressed as an issue, so that every student in the U.S. has equitable access to quality education during and following this pandemic.

Jennifer and
Jessica Aggrey
12th graders in Denver Public Schools

Jessica Aggrey: I’m seventeen years old and I’ve been with YAASPA since 2016. I am currently a senior at DSST GVR High School. I love YAASPA because it gives young people the opportunity to lead and work on issues we’re passionate about.

Jennifer Aggrey: I’m a senior at DSST: GVR High School. I’ve been an active member of YAASPA since 2016. I enjoy spending my free time reading and writing.