Equity and Diversity Newsletter

Elementary Edition May 2020

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Countering Coronavirus Stigma and Racism

Concerns over COVID-19 can make children and families anxious and may also lead to placing blame on others who are perceived to be associated with the outbreak. Citizens that identify as Asian American or Pacific Islander (AAPI) are currently being exposed to racism related to the COVID-19 virus. It is important that parent.caregivers and educators are prepared to help children identify the hurtful language and encourage children not to participate in these prejudiced conversations.

Young people look to the adults in their lives for guidance on how to respond to stressful events. As parents, caregivers, and educators we can help them understand the importance of treating all people with dignity and not associating entire groups of people with events that occur in different parts of the country or world. COVID-19 does not recognize race, nationality, or ethnicity. People of Chinese ancestry or other Asian nationalities are not more vulnerable to this illness. It is important to share accurate information. Incorrect information can be detrimental to the wellbeing of our children and damage their self-esteem. It is incumbent upon us as educators to help in this effort, we must model acceptance and compassion in our words and behavior. Teaching Tolerance has as recommended a four-step strategy for responding to racism and stereotypes.

  • Interrupt the conversation- speak up against negative statements

  • Question- ask why the person made the negative statement

  • Educate- hate and ignorance are usually behind negative comments. So, share positive information

  • Echo- repeat the anti-bias message

“How to Respond to Coronavirus Racism.” Teaching Tolerance, www.tolerance.org/magazine/how-to-respond-to-coronavirus-racism.

What's In Your Tool Box?

Here’s what speaking up against racism during the coronavirus might look like now.


Interrupting the conversation. Here are a few phrases to try:

“Hang on. I want to go back to what you called the virus.”

“Just a second—let’s get into your point that the virus is somebody’s fault.”

“Before we talk about that, I want to talk about the language you just used.”


We’re all familiar with “questions” that are really warnings: What did you just say to me? You might ask:

“Why did you call it the ‘Chinese Coronavirus’?”

“Why do you think that?”

“Where did you get that information?”


The key to educating is to continue the conversation. The goal isn’t to just provide facts about the topic but to explain why what they’ve said needs rethinking.

For example, you might explain that it’s actually not common anymore to name a disease after its place of origin, that there’s a long, bad history of associating diseases with specific groups of people and that the name COVID-19 was chosen very carefully to avoid repeating those mistakes.


It takes an effort to speak up against racist ideas and language. This is particularly true of people who are targeted by that language. That’s why we need to have each other’s backs. When someone else speaks up, echo them. Thank them, and emphasize or amplify their message any way you can.. Speaking up against bigotry, particularly if you’re not the target, costs very little.

More Tips for Countering Coronavirus Stigma and Racism

“How to Respond to Coronavirus Racism.” Teaching Tolerance, www.tolerance.org/magazine/how-to-respond-to-coronavirus-racism.

Library Corner

Reading With Ms. Gwen

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The Colors of Us by Karen Katz is a story about seven-year-old Lena who is going to paint a picture of herself. She wants to use brown paint for her skin. But when she and her mother take a walk through the neighborhood, Lena learns that brown comes in many different shades.

The Colors of Us is filled with wonderful artwork and coveys the idea of how beautiful we all are together. Together we make a brilliant rainbow of color.

Feel free to share Books with Ms. Gwen with your students.

The Colors of Us - Books with Gwen
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You Are The Best!

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One Hundred Years From Now

Excerpt from “Within My Power” by Forest Witcraft

“One Hundred Years from now It will not matter what kind of car I drove, What kind of house I lived in, how much money was in my bank account nor what my clothes looked like. But the world may be a better place because I was important in the life of a child."

Thank You For All You Do To Educate Our Students.