Giving Compass’ Take:
•The COVID-19 school closures severely impacted students across the Deep South, and the transition to remote learning sheds light on the prominent equity gap between families.
• How can donors in this region address the digital divide that is exacerbated by the public health crisis?
• Read more about the challenges of COVID-19 and lack of connectivity.
Students in the rural Deep South were particularly hit hard by the coronavirus’ impacts on learning, according to The Hechinger Report, which notes that schools in the region have some of the nation’s lowest levels of resources, few families with good jobs, and a lack of home Wi-Fi and medical insurance.
In Washington County, Mississippi, more than half of children between 5 and 17 live in poverty. Overall, only 27% of rural districts required direct instruction through distance learning during coronavirus closures due to lack of broadband access, and almost 78% of counties with the highest food insecurity rates are rural, with some of the most extreme cases being in the Deep South.
The rush to transition online as schools closed due to the coronavirus pandemic highlighted just how broad the equity gap between families really is — and how few resources schools have available to successfully make such a transition. Many students didn’t have computers or home internet access, teachers struggled with a shift to a model they weren’t prepared for, and many parents were simply unable to help due to their own jobs, lack of familiarity or other factors.
The homework gap especially received significant attention as closures revealed the extent to which many students lack reliable home internet and computer access. According to a Pew Research Center analysis, 65% of suburban 8th-graders use the internet every day or almost every day for homework, compared to 44% in towns and 50% in rural communities.
One-third of households with children between the ages of 6 and 17 with an average household income of $30,000 or less don’t have a high-speed internet connection at home. But only 6% of those whose families make more than $75,000 a year or more lack internet access.
Read the full article about impact of COVID-19 on the Deep South by Shawna De La Rosa at Education Dive.
K-12 Education is a complex topic, and others found these selections from the Impact Giving archive from Giving Compass to be good resources.
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