In a new podcast, Keisha Scarlett (EdD '18), chief of equity, partnerships and engagement at Seattle Public Schools, discusses the recent guidance of a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine committee for safely reopening K-12 schools.

Scarlett, who served on the influential committee of scientists and educators, highlighted one of the committee’s central recommendations that, wherever possible, younger children and those with special needs should attend school in person.

“Schools serve both academic opportunities for students but also take care of a whole lot of other things like their basic needs and other coordinated services,” Scarlett noted. “Where this report really stood out is talking about what it means to center decisions around equity and racial equity as a lens for resource allocation, including appealing to state and federal government for the financial resources necessary in order to do all of these things in order to reopen schools safely.”

While it will be impossible for schools to entirely eliminate the risk of COVID-19, the report says, young children in particular will be impacted by not having in-person learning and may suffer long-term academic consequences if they fall behind as a result.

"Reopening K-12 Schools During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Prioritizing Health, Equity, and Communities" recommends federal and state governments provide significant resources to districts and schools to help them cover the cost of COVID-19 precautions, including masks, enhanced cleaning, facility upgrades and reconfigured classes.

Scarlett is a graduate of the UW’s Leadership for Learning and Danforth Educational Leadership programs.


Dustin Wunderlich, Director of Marketing and Communications