In a letter to the editor of the Boston Globe sent in response to a news article about an increase in truancy reports by school officials during the pandemic, HopeWell CEO Shaheer Mustafa wrote:
“The pandemic continues to expose fault lines over race and class that were largely hidden from public view just six months ago. There are many instances when it makes sense for school officials to file a 51A report alleging child abuse or neglect if they have students who aren’t gaining access to education because of circumstances at home. But frivolous pandemic-related reports of abuse expose the ways in which schools fall prey to implicit bias.
If we learn nothing else from this pandemic, let it be that we gain more through empathy and making connections than we do by judging children and families who may be struggling.