Homeless students have specific needs that differ from their peers. These students may face added stress due to uncertainty, traumatic experiences, or face other challenges, like food insecurity. While we know this is a difficult time for everyone, it is important to understand how districts and communities are supporting the 13,000+ students experiencing homelessness across Colorado, particularly in this time of crisis as there are some districts in the state where as many as 1 in 5 students are dealing with homelessness.
We are encouraged to see most schools prioritize nutrition and remote learning. Feeding programs that are easily accessible, distance learning opportunities and educational materials are all necessary to keep students healthy and learning during this time. To meet the particular needs of students experiencing homelessness, other programmatic steps might include counseling and therapy check-ins, varied communication pathways (as students and families may not have reliable access to internet connections), and partnerships with community groups and organizations to meet other basic, health, and hygiene needs (as well as discreet ways for families to make their needs known).
As schools develop more concrete plans to deal with the extended closure, we encourage them to implement policies that keep their most vulnerable students in mind. The US Interagency Council on Homelessness has a list of resources which may be helpful when making these decisions and can be viewed here.