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James L. Capps Middle School exterior with angled black shelter brick building. Orange wrap facade over double height glass

The Unique Impacts of COVID-19 on Black Students

Troy Glover

I’ve always had an interest in understanding how culture impacts the experiences of others; how it drives societal or behavioral perceptions, beliefs, and attitudes. Black people are often underrepresented in research, so the impact of COVID-19 on the Black male student population was an unknown. That drove my passion to learn more.

people in suits pose for photo outside a red brick building, arched roof and windows on a ramp with white metal railing,

The Philander Smith College planning team at the Sherman E. Tate Student Recreation Center, working to implement a grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Troy Glover is fourth from left. Image © DLR Group.

Through DLR Group’s Personal Development Grant program, which awards employees time and money to explore an individual passion project, I began exploring the impact of COVID-19 on Black male middle school and high school students.

I completed a human subjects research protection course through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that heightened my awareness of vulnerable groups, and the importance of protecting the privacy of study participants. Given historical research with questionable ethics, this is especially important to me.

We were all impacted by the pandemic in major ways, but for many Black students who already faced challenges at school, COVID-19 set them back further. The students I surveyed talked about the impact of isolation from friends, difficulty doing schoolwork, and generally that life became more difficult. Utilizing surveys and focus groups, we are gaining a better understanding how disruptions to learning during the height of the pandemic impacted the mental, social, and physical wellbeing of Black students. Having a deeper understanding of the full impact of remote instruction during the pandemic will help us better support these students in the future.

This research, which will continue into 2023, is already laying the groundwork for similar studies with other student populations and helping create best practices for school administrators, educators, and students as they balance remote and in-person learning.

Get an in-depth look at our efforts to design a more equitable future in our annual report.

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Troy Glover
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