My son finished elementary school at our local, Title 1 public school this spring. Distance learning under emergency conditions was a challenge. For some it was especially tough. Some kids never made it to class meetings. Other students shared one device among three or more siblings. The experience highlighted the significant challenge in making remote learning equitable in a country with deep economic stratification.
Closing school buildings, like the pandemic itself, accelerates racial and class-based disparities in opportunity. If this school year ends up being entirely remote, parents who are essential workers will rely on extended family and older siblings to support learning from home. Many students will be on their own without an adult at home, or without an adult who is available and capable of supporting their learning throughout the day. Meanwhile, the most privileged families will switch to independent schools or hire teachers for separate learning “pods.”