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COVID-19 and the Distance Learning Gap

April 16, 2020

Authors: Hernan Galperin, Kurt Wyatt, Thai Le

Project: Connected Communities and Inclusive Growth (CCIG)

Download File: "COVID-19 and the Distance Learning Gap"

As schools across the country transition to distance learning due to the COVID-19 crisis, a new CCIG report documents the extent of the distance learning gap in Los Angeles County. The distance learning gap refers to the gap between students living in households with high-speed Internet and a desktop or laptop computer, and those without these essential resources for effective distance learning. Among the key findings are:

  • about 1 in 4 families with school-age children in LA County lack the technology resources for distance learning. This represents approximately 250,000 families whose children are likely to fall behind in educational attainment during the crisis.
  • the gap is even larger for LAUSD families, as 1 in 3 lack high-speed Internet access or a desktop/laptop device
  • only about half of the K-12 households in the bottom 20% of the income distribution are equipped for distance learning. This compares to about 90% in the top 20%.
  • households lacking distance learning resources are clustered in South and East LA. In these communities, less than half of all families have the technology resources for distance learning. This interactive map helps visualize the extent of the distance learning gap in Los Angeles.
  • regardless of income, students of color are less likely to have the technology resources for distance learning. For example, the gap between Hispanic and non-Hispanic students at the same income level is as high as 20 percentage points. The reason is that minority students, regardless of income, tend to live in communities with underfunded schools and less advanced broadband infrastructure.