All over the country, education professionals, parents, and students have been forced to navigate the world of online classes with little warning, or training. EducationSuperHighway, a nonprofit working to provide U.S. schools with broadband infrastructure, estimates that 9.7 million students in our country do not have access to reliable internet in their homes. According to their research, only 15 to 19% of Washington students have access to reliable internet connection.

For those living in low-income neighborhoods, paying for internet is less of a priority than paying rent, and keeping the lights on. Traditionally, school buildings and organizations such as libraries and community centers have been a reliable source of Wi-Fi for these neighborhoods. However, due to sudden closures these resources have been lost.

The Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA), a research-based, non-profit supporting students and educators worldwide, estimates that students may return for the 2020/21 school year having learned only 70% of what they should have in reading/language arts, and only 50% in math. This has become known as the “COVID Slide.” Educators fear that since schools closed in March, this past school year will have to be re-taught. To combat this, some schools are offering in-school summer programs to students who need to catch up. School closings, and little training or help with online learning impacts students from all socio/economic backgrounds. However, its abundantly clear that low-income and minority students will be disproportionately affected. The impact is worsened when you consider other factors aggravated by poverty, such as homelessness, increased rates of domestic violence, and addiction. Students need to be in school to have equitable access to education.

Communities In Schools of Spokane County is developing new ways to reach students and serve their needs. Through family engagement, school enrichment, and academic assistance we will continue to provide students with a community of support, and access to an equitable education.