This paper explores the student experience in North Texas through current research and interviews with students, parents, educators, and nonprofit leaders who leaned into the work of meeting basic needs in an extremely challenging time. The chapter begins with data on COVID-19 infection rates in the community and publicly available data from school districts and Texas Education Agency on academic achievement, grounding the chapter in quantitative facts. Next, findings from interviews provide context on the human impact of the pandemic. Parents and educators share their perspectives on the challenges students faced, unpacking what they wish they had known early in the pandemic, the strengths they saw in the children as they navigated learning in an unusual situation, and their worries and hopes for the future. Nonprofit leaders from organizations addressing children’s mental health, homelessness prevention, food insecurity, and out-of-classroom education share how their work changed during the pandemic, the importance of supporting students’ basic needs for academic and social-emotional development, and how they saw children respond to the pandemic. Finally, students share their own perspectives on learning during COVID and the lessons they hope decision-makers learn to transform the educational experience.

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