Education

Racial Digital Divide Affects Online Learning During Pandemic: Study

The Census Bureau has begun publishing a Household Pulse Survey every two weeks that fields questions on employment, health, education, and other issues regarding how well Americans are coping with disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, with most instruction for students in K-12 education as well as at colleges and universities having moved online and expected to continue for the remainder of the academic year, most K-12 educators — and many in higher education — are unfamiliar with distance education technology and systems.

The Census Bureau’s latest survey found more than 9.6 million African American households with children in K-12 public and private schools throughout the United States. Of these, only 61.6 percent said they had the technology that allows their children to do their online schoolwork at all times. In comparison, white households had nearly 73 percent total access to the online education for their children.

Also, nearly 29 percent of Black households said the technology in their homes was “usually” or “sometimes” available for their children to use for online education.

While there were 858,173 Black households that reported that they “rarely” or “never” had a device available for their children to use for online education, 4.3 percent of White households rarely or never had devices for children to use for online education.

Since many households do not have the required technology available to access the online instruction provided by school systems, the problem is further complicated for families with two or more children in school. Even if these households have the required technology, they may not have the capability to fully educate more than one child.

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