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  • Author: Julie Sugarman, Melissa Lazarín
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Migration Policy Institute (MPI)
  • Abstract: As schools closed their physical classrooms in March 2020 due to COVID-19, educators across the United States reported that English Learners (ELs), immigrant students, and students in low-income families were particularly difficult to reach with online instruction. The pandemic and the sudden, forced transition to remote learning have brought into sharp relief the inequities that many of these students face in often under-resourced schools. Despite significant effort on the part of educators to support their students’ continued learning through Spring 2020, these efforts fell short for many ELs and students in immigrant families. Among the most notable barriers: a lack of access to digital devices and broadband, school–family communication gaps, parents’ limited capacity to support home learning, and inadequate remote learning resources and training for teachers on how to use them effectively. With the 2020–21 school year underway, and many schools continuing to operate partly or entirely remotely, this policy brief takes stock of the impact schools’ response to the pandemic is having on ELs and immigrant-background students. It identifies key challenges states and school districts must overcome, and outlines policy recommendations to help them ensure these students are adequately supported in this academic year and beyond. These include prioritizing ELs for in-person instruction when schools buildings begin to reopen, professional development on digital instruction that includes a focus on working with ELs, strategies for strengthening parental engagement, and funding mechanisms to shield high-needs students from the brunt of expected budget cuts. As the authors note, “depending on how states and districts adapt in the coming year, schools could emerge from this crisis having built stronger and more resilient systems on a foundation of equity for ELs and immigrant-background students.”
  • Topic: Education, Science and Technology, Immigration, Inequality, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 12-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Conference Board
  • Abstract: The disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on industries where women are heavily concentrated combined with the virus’s debilitating impact on child care options and in-person schooling threatens progress in the integration and representation of women in the US economy. Even if the reversal proves temporary, as is likely, the career consequences of the pandemic for individual women could have long-lasting effects and slow future progress.1 When talented workers sit on the sidelines or are prevented from fully contributing to the workforce, those workers are not the only ones affected. The economic strength of the entire nation suffers for the duration of those workers’ entire careers, and employers miss out on an important competitive resource. Thus, the impact of COVID-19 on women is a first-order national concern. Women are a vital part of the American labor force, both as nearly half of workers, and, as the primary facilitators of work by others through formal and informal caretaking roles. Even if progress in more fully integrating women into all aspects and levels of the economy has, at times, been slow, it has also been one of the most important sources of strength for the American economy over the past half century.3 The continued lowering of barriers and further economic integration of women into all fields and roles in proportion to their talents remains one of the surest paths to increasing the size, skill, and contributions to innovation of the American workforce.4
  • Topic: Women, Employment, Inequality, Economy, COVID-19, Workforce
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Katariina Mustasilta
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Union Institute for Security Studies
  • Abstract: In December 2019, when the novel strain of coronavirus first hit the headlines, 12 countries in the world were experiencing organised violence on an extensive scale, with more than 100 incidents of violence and attacks against civilians recorded in that month. To most of these countries, the virus seemed a distant threat at the time. Yet, a few months and over 7 million recorded Covid-19 cases later, it has evolved from a distant threat to a stark reality. The global crisis – which has unleashed an emergency in the world’s public health, political, and economic systems simultaneously – has subjected even the most stable societies to unprecedented disruption. In conflict-affected countries, i.e. countries with ongoing conflicts or a high risk of relapse into conflict, and countries emerging from conflicts, the pandemic has added another layer on top of often multiple existing layers of crisis. Against the backdrop of expert warnings over the particular vulnerabilities of conflict-affected countries to Covid-19, this Brief analyses key emerging dynamics and repercussions in conflict-affected countries in general, and in five countries in particular: Colombia, Libya, Sudan, Ukraine and Yemen. The focus here is especially on conflicts and countries previously covered by our Conflict Series, so as to build on already accumulated analysis. The Brief identifies three main ways in which the global crisis impacts conflict-affected countries. First, the pandemic itself risks exacerbating inequalities and further burdening already vulnerable groups within conflict-affected societies. Second, local and external conflict parties are quick to capitalise on various opportunities arising from the policy responses to the crisis which also complicate peace and crisis management efforts. Third, the economic fallout puts severe strain on already weak state institutions and undermines governance outcomes (thus increasing the risk of conflict). Of these three dimensions, the policy responses and distraction created by the pandemic have thus far had the most significant repercussions for conflict dynamics, unfortunately often for the worse. The global scale of the crisis and its continuing evolution complicate efforts to seize momentum for peace and set the pandemic apart from previous catastrophic/disruptive events, such as the tsunami in 2004, that in some cases led to a positive shift in local conflict dynamics. The Brief is structured as follows: the main text analyses the emerging trends catalysed by the pandemic crisis in conflict-affected contexts, while the case study boxes discuss the unfolding processes in specific countries. The last section discusses the policy options for preventing further escalatory repercussions.
  • Topic: War, Inequality, Conflict, Crisis Management, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Russia, Middle East, Asia, South America, North Africa, North America, Africa