Southside Parent Leader, Father of High Schoolers Speaks to Chalkbeat about Return to School During COVID Surge

“On Chicago’s South Side, Dexter Leggin feels no hesitation as his two sons head back to school this fall. His boys need to be in the classroom.

A volunteer with the parent advocacy group Community Organizing and Family issues, Leggin has been a vocal proponent of reopening schools full time since last summer. He feels the district has taken important steps to reduce the risk of COVID transmission, but he also points out that any discussion of keeping kids healthy must feature mental health front and center. By cutting off his children from facetime with peers and caring adults and from after-school activities such as his junior’s football team, school closures have taken a heavy toll, he says.

Then, there’s academics. With his older son heading into his junior year at Al Raby High School, Leggin has already created a spreadsheet to manage and track college applications. He is grateful teachers at the school have pushed and supported his son, who has special needs. But last year was a major setback, with his son occasionally tuning out virtual classes for extended stretches. Returning to school two days a week in April helped. Still, Leggin was taken aback to see Bs and Cs on the boy’s grade report.

‘Those should have been Ds and Fs — all of them; I know my child,’ he said. ‘He is going to be a junior, but is he ready to do junior-level work? That scares me.’”

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