‘A national crisis’: As coronavirus forces many schools online this fall, millions of disconnected students are being left behind
For all the talk of Generation Z’s Internet savvy, a stunning number of young people are locked out of virtual classes because they lack high-speed Internet service at home. In 2018, nearly 17 million children lived in homes without high-speed Internet, and more than 7 million did not have computers at home. The issue affects a disproportionately high percentage of Black, Latino and Native American households — with nearly one-third of students lacking high-speed Internet at home. Students in Southern states and in rural communities also were particularly overrepresented. In Mississippi and Arkansas, about 40 percent of students lacked high-speed Internet.
Education advocates say Congress could deliver an easy fix as part of a coronavirus relief package by expanding an existing program that helps schools and libraries get Internet service. But those hopes collapsed alongside talks between Congress and the White House on a new relief package. With talks deadlocked, President Donald Trump issued an executive order for coronavirus relief. It provides nothing for K-12 public schools. The consequences of the gap between those who have access to virtual learning and those who do not could be felt for years to come. "It’s dire,” said Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), who has pushed to increase funding that subsidizes the cost of Internet service for schools and libraries. Her district contains parts of rural Virginia that are not served by Internet service providers. “We are generationally committing to significant divides in our communities over what kind of education our children are getting.”
‘A national crisis’: As coronavirus forces many schools online this fall, millions of disconnected students are being left behin