Journal of Public Management & Social Policy


While the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted student learning in the spring of 2020 and impacted nearly all of the 55 million students in kindergarten to 12th grade nationwide, it also magnified significant racial inequities in schools and society. Generations of systemic racism left communities of color and their neighborhood schools more at risk during the crisis. Over the summer of 2020, school leaders and communities considered whether to reopen school campuses or keep buildings closed for the 2020-2021 academic school year, and media began to highlight racial and ethnic difference in attitudes about those plans. Consistent with popular accounts, we find significant differences in attitudes between white and non-white respondents in our analysis of survey data from two national public opinion polls conducted over the summer of 2020. We suggest that these differences are rooted in long-standing inequities due to structural racism and its effects on health, schools, and society, and associated gaps in political trust, as well as the disproportionate burden that communities of color have borne during the COVID-19 pandemic.



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