A DIGITAL DIVIDE HAUNTS SCHOOLS ADAPTING TO VIRUS HURDLES
AppleMagazine|January 21, 2022
When April Schneider’s children returned to in-person classrooms this year, she thought they were leaving behind the struggles from more than a year of remote learning.
No more problems with borrowed tablets. No more days of missed lessons because her kids couldn’t connect to their virtual schooling.

But coronavirus cases in her children’s New York City classrooms, and the subsequent quarantines, sent her kids back to learning from home. Without personal devices for each child, Schneider said they were largely left to do nothing while stuck at home.

“So there you go again, with no computer, and you’re back to square one as if COVID just begun all over again in a smaller form,” Schneider said.

As more families pivot back to remote learning amid quarantines and school closures, reliable, consistent access to devices and home internet remains elusive for many students who need them to keep up with their schoolwork. Home internet access for students has improved since the onset of the pandemic with help from philanthropy, federal relief funding and other efforts — but obstacles linger, including a lack of devices, slow speeds and financial hurdles.

Concerns around the digital divide have shifted toward families that are “under-connected” and able to access the internet only sporadically, said Vikki Katz, a communication professor at Rutgers University.

“It’s about whether or not you can withstand the disruptions of these quick pivots in ways that don’t derail your learning,” she said.

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