The Digital Divide

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has caused an unprecedented global shutdown of schools, with over 50 million children affected in the United States alone. Although Ridgewood students have access to personal chromebooks which can be used to extend education to home learning, many students across America do not. As a result, a considerable amount of school districts in the country cannot provide proper virtual education to their students.

New York, for example, has an estimated 300,000 students without access to electronic devices. In a digital age, families that lack access to the internet or computers simply cannot receive adequate education. Even before the pandemic, an estimated 12 million students had issues finishing schoolwork because of technological issues. COVID-19 can deepen these existing educational inequalities and have huge repercussions as many students remain out of school and without proper schooling for an indefinite amount of time. Specifically, gaps in schooling can lead to what is known as “learning loss.” Plus, children from lower income families will be most affected by time spent out of school because they will lose out on the education being received by the students with access to computers. When students miss out on education, they miss out on future economic opportunities, impacting their life for years to come.

In addition to education, many students rely on schools to provide daily lunches. Under normal circumstances, the National School Lunch Program has served over 30 million children everyday. Closures now leave many students without access to free lunches which may be their only guaranteed meal of the day – and over 11 million children in the U.S. are food insecure. Child hunger is a huge problem made worse by the corona virus shutdown. 

School closures due to COVID-19 have accentuated disparities in education and technology among the classes, and threaten to exacerbate these inequalities and America’s digital divide. Reaching out to the people who are hardest hit by this pandemic can make a difference and accelerate the recovery from COVID-19. There are many organizations aimed at helping children, and here are a few listed below:

    • OASIS: A haven in Paterson for women and children (the link will show drop off locations for food)
    • Family Promise (Bergen County): Helps children who are homeless or near homeless to offer immediate aid. Note there is a Family Promise of Bergen County in Ridgewood
  • Support First Book’s Relief Efforts: Distributes reading material to children who do not have access to them. Pizza Hut also has a $500,000 matching program with this First Book program.

Lindsey Christinger
Staff Writer

Graphic: Logan Richman
Digital Content Editor

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