Addressing Racial and Ethnic Disparities in COVID-19 Among School-Aged Children: Are We Doing Enough?

Prev Chronic Dis. 2021 Jun 3;18:E55. doi: 10.5888/pcd18.210084.


The disproportionate impact of COVID-19 and associated disparities among Hispanic, non-Hispanic Black, and non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaska Native children and teenagers has been documented. Reducing these disparities along with overcoming unintended negative consequences of the pandemic, such as the disruption of in-person schooling, calls for broad community-based collaborations and nuanced approaches. Based on national survey data, children from some racial and ethnic minority groups have a higher prevalence of obesity, asthma, type 2 diabetes, and hypertension; were diagnosed more frequently with COVID-19; and had more severe outcomes compared with their non-Hispanic White (NHW) counterparts. Furthermore, a higher proportion of children from some racial and ethnic minority groups lived in families with incomes less than 200% of the federal poverty level or in households lacking secure employment compared with NHW children. Children from some racial and ethnic minority groups were also more likely to attend school via online learning compared with NHW counterparts. Because the root causes of these disparities are complex and multifactorial, an organized community-based approach is needed to achieve greater proactive and sustained collaborations between local health departments, local school systems, and other public and private organizations to pursue health equity. This article provides a summary of potential community-based health promotion strategies to address racial and ethnic disparities in COVID-19 outcomes and educational inequities among children and teens, specifically in the implementation of strategic partnerships, including initial collective work, outcomes-based activities, and communication. These collaborations can facilitate policy, systems, and environmental changes in school systems that support emergency preparedness, recovery, and resilience when faced with public health crises.

PMID:34081577 | DOI:10.5888/pcd18.210084