Students all over the world have been learning from home because of the coronavirus pandemic. More than 90% of students worldwide have been affected by school closures. That’s according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization.
Teachers and students are getting used to the sudden change. Most learning is taking place online in virtual classrooms. But some students don’t have access to computers and tablets or good Wi-Fi.
Educators say the pandemic has highlighted the “digital divide.” That’s the split between those who have access to the Internet and those who do not.
“It’s been impacting students all across the country,” Sonja Santelises told TIME for Kids. She’s the CEO of Baltimore City Public Schools, in Maryland. “In a time of crisis,” she says, “that divide is clearer and it’s starker.”
School districts across the United States are finding ways to overcome the digital divide. In Baltimore, kids can now watch lessons on cable TV. In Tucson, Arizona, school buses with Wi-Fi have been sent to neighborhoods where people have limited Internet access. And in Chicago, Illinois, more than 100,000 laptops and tablets were given to students who needed them.
Teachers are getting creative too. In Madison, South Dakota, a sixth-grade teacher set up a whiteboard outside a student’s front door. He gave her a math lesson from a safe distance. “It’s been a very old-fashioned and very personalized communication with the students,” Lora Davenport says. She’s a second-grade teacher in University City, Missouri.
Santelises says this is just what kids need right now. “The biggest challenge . . . has been the need to connect and be part of the school community.”
Students are stepping up and helping each other too. University City fifth grader London Trussel has advice for them. “Trust the process,” she says. “Just be patient and wait, and then we’ll all go back to school.”