COVID-19: How are low income families dealing with remote learning?

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Willie Lopez Morales, Herald Staff

Across the entire country school districts have turned to remote learning as a safer alternative to in person school during the pandemic. The drastic switch from in person classes to online learning has impacted many. These effects go from not being able to pay for internet connection, to parents struggling to find a way to provide for their young children while also balancing a job. Everyone is being affected in one way or another.

One of the main struggles noted comes from families who are low income. Low income families have found it challenging to provide internet connection as well as electronic devices for their children. While most families have received help from the district, there is still a notable difference between families who are financially stable and families who are struggling. Students whose families are able to afford high end technology seem to struggle less with connectivity issues, as well as the use of different aspects of Zoom/virtual meetings. 

After speaking to a student at Holyoke High School North Campus, who has requested to remain anonymous, I was able to learn that the Chromebooks provided by the district are not working effectively. “I was in my math class and all of a sudden my Zoom crashes,” he stated, then adds, “but, when I switched to start using my step father’s computer, the meetings ran just fine with no issues at all.” Luckily, the student was able to use another device in his household. What happens when the only form of technology students rely on are the Chromebooks provided by the district? The results are students are losing valuable class time because of complications that are out of their control.

Another concern for parents is the inability to care for their children and balance a full-time job. “Who’s going to guide my children while I’m at work?” says a local parent who has students enrolled in Holyoke Public Schools. Her children are in first and second grade and do not know how to operate a computer effectively. The kids have just been introduced to a new way of learning and now have to learn how to manage all of these different websites for their classes. The mother’s worry is that her children will not be able to thrive in their classes without her being there with them all day. This leaves her with the tough decision of having to stop work and attend to her children.

Overall, this pandemic has affected many children as well as their parents. The struggles are practically uncontrollable and are mostly caused by this new way of learning.  Students are trying to adjust to this new normal while battling the adversities of online schooling.