NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — The New Haven School District is still deciding on its back to school plan. But parents and community leaders are growing anxious. Some say the city’s proposed plans do not address the needs of New Haven’s poorest communities, those unable to bridge the digital divide but also most at risk for COVID-19.

“Why do that when there’s a chance your child could die?” asked parent Charlotte Kidd. 

She’s adamant her daughter won’t be returning to in-person classes. But she says the other option, remote learning, remains out of reach for many students.

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“We’ve been left out to dry. The kids are failing,” said Kidd.

New haven clergy are unhappy with the district’s back to school plans, so they’re taking matters into their own hands. 17 churches are throwing open their doors and inviting in families who need internet access, meals, and childcare in case schools stay remote.

They’re even equipped with PPE from Yale. The Reverend Dr. Boise Kimber says enough hasn’t been done to fully bridge the digital divide for the poorest parts of the city, the same neighborhoods hardest hit by COVID, where families fear sending their students back to in-person classes.

“70% of our kids in New Haven did not sign on to remote learning,” said Kimber.

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“Students had to go to a parking lot just so they could do their homework or a person had to go to their cousin’s house so they could get quality internet. So we’re trying to alleviate that burden,” described Rev. Steven Cousin of Bethel AME Church.

The churches are providing a third option.

“We are simply offering a safe place where they have Wifi and adult supervision…We could lose a whole generation of kids,” said Rev. Cousin.

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