For South students of color, coming to school in person has special risks.

CJ Miller, Staff Writer

As the world has been gripped by COVID-19 over the past few months, doctors have noticed that the illness largely attacks those with poor health and of an older age. But there is also another tidbit: COVID-19 affects people of color at a higher rate than white people.

School board member Jacinda Townsend Gides, who is Black, said that nationally, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, Black and Latino students are staying home from in-person school in greater numbers. She also said lower income families are also keeping their children home at higher rates than their higher income counterparts. She cited this as one one of the reasons she voted to keep school closed initially and to allow online learning after that. 

Gides didn’t have high school data, but said that at the elementary level, the school with the most students receiving the free and reduced lunch, Fairview (86%) has 31% of its students staying home.

Jalen Peck, Gabriel Roberts, Izayah Rodriguez and Kya Seibert are all South students who wanted to return for school sports. Peck plays football and basketball. Roberts plays football, basketball, and runs track, and Seibert plays soccer. All were having a somewhat normal season, until this week when Oct. 10’s football game against Roncalli was canceled because of Covid cases on the South football team. 

Peck said Covid “got in the way of normal football training.” “It’s been weird to experience, it gotten in the way of off season training,” Roberts said. “Our football season got pushed back a little bit, also our basketball season got canceled,” right before regionals.

 Rodriguez added: “I didn’t think we were going to have a season because of how strong the virus was.” 

Many students of color have had to think hard about coming back into a school building. Peck said that his parents left the decision with him, trusting his instinct as a young man.

Roberts said it was not an issue for him as his parents trusted his judgment as well, but he also said, “yeah I’m not really comfortable with this situation,” with regard to situations with big crowds and/or close contact. Rodriguez’s story was similar; his family let him make his decision, because he was “grown.”

Seibert said, “my parents were split for the most part” with her mother, who is a nurse, airing on the side on caution wanting her to stay home, while her father wanted her to go back on a hybrid schedule.