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Shemar Affected by COVID-19: The Challenges of All Those Kids With No Internet Access and Special Needs

Online education and the digital divide are leaving low-income students to their own.  As has been reported more than once, these students now have to do school work in small spaces shared with family members, which in some cases is just a single room.  In some other cases, these students are to stay home alone. They don't have a computer or don't know English yet; in sum, low-income students are disadvantaged in this new online learning environment.

Schools in Los Angeles, New Hampshire, or Baltimore are cheating poor students. This assertion is established after studies and reports call out on school safety after the pandemic situation we all are living with. Teachers are leaving their profession in regards to protection. Besides, they feel no ready to transition from in-person to online education, sometimes regarded as a  poor substitute for in-person learning.  After all, you can blame them. Many of the teachers came of age before smartphones and social media.

Photo by Brian Kim

ProPublica and The New Yorker ran a piece about Shemar's story, one of the thousand special cases American families live with every day. The story takes place in Baltimore but uncovers more than inequity in the remote learning. Here is an excerpt of what the Shemar's grandmother had to say about remote learning that education authorities may want to think hard before deploying it  and whether schools should open or not:

“There’s too many kids that need to go to school,” she said. “That homeschooling is not going to get it.” She went on, “I can’t even see, so I can’t help him, and most of the time the rest of them are gone. What do you want to do, teach him online? I don’t even know how to get online, so I can’t be no help to nobody.” Shemar, she said, “is not one of those kids who says, ‘I’ve got to do this’ and do it. You’ve got to sit right there with him.”

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