Schools provide stability for refugee children. Covid-19 upended that | #coronavirus | #kids. | #children | #parenting | #parenting | #kids

When the Covid-19 pandemic forced schools to pivot to remote learning, Nawar Almadani and her family weren’t sure what they’d do. Her three kids were enrolled in middle and elementary school; she was working toward her GED. They didn’t own a laptop, and even when they got two from school — one from the city for the kids, the other from Almadani’s program — they had to share.

Beyond the struggles all families are facing with remote learning, the Almadani family is dealing with additional stress: They fled Syria as refugees, and resettled in Chicago in 2016. They, like many refugee families in the U.S., face a litany of additional obstacles to remote learning, including language barriers, access to technology. And although many refugee families are doing their best, they risk falling behind without the special resources and support provided by the school.

According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, refugee children in primary education are lagging behind their peers globally. Refugee children frequently grapple with mental health issues and trauma due to displacement, war, and conflict. For many of those refugees, a quality education often serves as the only source of stability in their lives and an eventual key to a successful future.

Critical Condition

The Students the Pandemic Hit Hardest

The coronavirus pandemic closed schools and launched a national experiment in remote learning that has been chaotic and stressful for millions of American families. But in some households, the shift to homeschool was particularly catastrophic. In this series we profile vulnerable children whose education was already precarious and how the disease has exacerbated gaps in opportunities and resources for communities already on the edge.

When Covid-19 halted traditional schooling, this source of stability for refugees was also upended. In the U.S., the lack of in-person schooling meant a lack of access to resources and human interaction needed to practice English. Schools are also childcare centers, access to meals and nutrition, a source of support for vulnerable children, and a hub for socialization.

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