Education & Digital Equity
With school-age children suddenly forced to transition to online learning, schools have struggled to substitute in-school resources with online instruction - especially in areas where children lack reliable Internet access. Here, we outline specific problems related to digital access and equity, policies currently in place to help mitigate them, and highlight areas that are still lacking.
Broadband availability has been at the heart of the digital divide with an estimated 21.3 million people lacking access in 2019.
Only two-thirds of rural Americans report having a home broadband connection.
Low-income families tend to be more smartphone-dependent. In 2015, 35% of lower-income households with school-age children did not have a broadband internet connection at home.
CURRENT GAPS in POLICY
English language learners, special education students, homeless students, and low-income students face particular challenges in the transition to online education.
The digital divide presents a particular challenge during this pandemic when all instruction has moved online and social distancing makes it impossible to use the free Internet services provided at libraries.
Potential temporary solutions could include parking wireless school buses in local communities lacking broadband access or bringing device-lending programs to school-operated nutrition centers.
Highlighted State Policies & Initiatives
Featured intervention: CovEducation
CovED is a community of undergraduates interested in supporting K-12 students in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. By compiling online educational resources for all grade levels and pairing mentors from higher ed institutions with K-12 students affected by school closures, CovED aims to provide additional academic assistance for students and families facing hardships during this pandemic.