Millions of American families and families from all over the world were getting ready for the new school year, but, because of the pandemic, many schools had to continue their education with virtual learning, rather than physical.
Children are getting the needed equipment, setting up internet, and, praying for the best.
Although this isn’t a problem for many children, for a large number of people, virtual learning isn’t readily available.
Especially for the families with low income- this divide has somehow placed them at a disadvantage.
The difficulties of virtual learning have been shown through this photo which has gone viral. It shows two school children from California.
They could be seen sitting outside of Taco Bell store only to use their Wi-Fi to be able to get the online classes.
Girls Sitting Outside in the Parking Lot to Use Taco Bell Wi-Fi
The girls, whose faces have been obscured to keep them anonymous, are seen sitting on the pavement and hunching over their laptops.
The photo was shared by Instagram user @ms_mamie89 who wrote that her mother send her the photo. These 2 girls were searching for an available Wi-Fi spot to connect to their online class.
This shows that not every child has internet access at home.
The image was quickly being re-shared on social media and sparked a debate about the digital divide which has been accented during this period of pandemic.
An Alarming Situation, but not Surprising, Say Experts
President pro tempore of the California Senate, Kevin de Leon tweeted this photo and noted that 40 percent of all Latinos don’t have access to the internet in the Americas.
He added that this generation deserves much better.
Also, Moneterey County Supervisor Luis Alejo also retweeted the photo and wrote that we have to do better and solve this digital divide for good and enable learning for all students in California.
He emphasized the need for a universal broadband infrastructure for students.
Digital Divide Is Not a Problem just for California
Alejo said that California is the tech capital in the world, so this is embarrassing.
He noted that Salinas Valley is 45 minutes from Silicon Valley and still, there’s a major divide going on for years, but it’s now been amplified due to the corona.
However, Alejo is aware that this isn’t a problem solely for California, but for children worldwide. In Salinas, the number of parents who don’t know how to use computers or how hotspot works is large.
According to a study by the Common Sense Media and the Boston Consulting Group, 15 to 16 million K-12 students from public schools in the US live in homes without proper internet or lack the needed tech to be able to learn from a distance.
This is why educators and parents are afraid of students failing behind.