July 10, 2020
This spring, Kwesi Ablordeppey worked nights taking care of veterans at Holyoke Soldiers’ Home in Massachusetts, where at least 76 patients have died of Covid-19.
During the day, though, he has been the resident IT consultant at his home in Springfield — his two teenage daughters often needing his help troubleshooting problems with their Zoom lessons. Like most students around the country, the 10th-graders shifted to online learning earlier this year when their school closed to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.
This left Ablordeppey, a single dad, with the dual burden of working and managing his kids’ education — something many American parents have struggled with in the pandemic. “It’s not something that I’m comfortable with,” he said, but “we have to adapt to the situation.”
Adapting to any situation is easier when there’s an end in sight. But pulling sleepless nights, trying to work with kids on your lap, and sometimes even moving across the country to be with family members who can provide child care are not permanent solutions. And as Covid-19 cases skyrocket across the American South and West, and many families enter their fifth month without reliable child care in sight, the question is growing louder and louder: What’s going to happen in the fall?
It’s a question with high stakes for all involved — children, parents, teachers, and staff — a total of tens of millions of people across the country. While some have called on the federal government for help, President Trump instead waded into the fray this week with his trademark all-caps bluster to insist that schools must open in the fall without any clear solutions. He also threatened to withdraw federal funding from schools that don’t open their buildings.