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San Jose, CA – The needs of students experiencing homelessness during the pandemic in the Bay Area are highlighted in a report released on Monday, March 1, by the Bay Area Geographic Leads Consortium in partnership with WestEd. The report, Addressing the Needs of Students Experiencing Homelessness During the COVID-19 Pandemic, features promising strategies and supports schools put in place to address these needs in five Bay Area counties: Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Solano.
The Bay Area Consortium’s five county offices of education convened monthly during the pandemic to better understand regional challenges related to homelessness and investigate current countywide, district, and community strategies to combat the unique barriers facing students experiencing homelessness. This was an expansion from the prior foundational work of the Consortium, which focused on improving outcomes for students experiencing homelessness, with an emphasis on reducing chronic absenteeism.
“This white paper is informed by the expertise and perspective of County Offices of Education from across the Bay Area, and highlights encouraging practices implemented by each to support the critical needs of students experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dr. Mary Ann Dewan, Santa Clara County Superintendent of Schools. “Equity is a driving principle of the Santa Clara County Office of Education, and we are committed to supporting students experiencing homelessness to help them achieve their full potential.”
Findings from across the Bay Area noted that with schools closed to in-person learning, staff at the district and school levels sought out creative approaches for identifying, reaching and serving students experiencing homelessness. Strategies such as increasing mental health supports, meal and technology distribution, and the creation of online modules for teachers to support students experiencing homelessness during distance learning are among the effective responses to this challenge.
The white paper offers strategies to address the needs of our region’s most vulnerable students. By working collaboratively across counties in the region to share, analyze, and replicate these promising practices, the Bay Area Geographic Lead Consortium is providing much-needed support to students and families experiencing homelessness. These resources will also be shared statewide with counties across California in the interest of supporting and improving academic and social-emotional outcomes for these students.
About the Santa Clara County Office of Education
Working collaboratively with school and community partners, the Santa Clara County Office of Education (SCCOE) is a regional service agency that provides instructional, business, and technology services to the 31 school districts of Santa Clara County. The County Office of Education directly serves students through special education programs, alternative schools, Head Start and State Preschool programs, migrant education, and Opportunity Youth Academy. The SCCOE also provides academic and fiscal oversight and monitoring to districts in addition to the 22 Santa Clara County Board of Education authorized charter schools.