The unanticipated transitions to virtual schooling due to COVID-19 exposed the lack of digital resources among Black families in the United States, including access to Wi-Fi and technological savviness, a new study finds.
As two-thirds of the country’s Black children are born into single-parent households, the findings help explain the extensive stress virtual schooling caused for many Black families trying to keep their children learning and engaged online while at home during the pandemic.
“What we found was parents and caregivers often felt disempowered in the rapidly changing environment, as they did not necessarily feel equipped with the tools or technological savviness to effectively engage in their children’s education the way they felt they needed to,” says Adaobi Anakwe, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Missouri and the study’s lead author.
“Schools were sending students home with devices for online learning without first ensuring families had reliable, consistent internet access to utilize those devices, and this was a big contributor to parental stress and burnout.”
Anakwe and Wilson Majee, an associate professor in the School of Health Professions, interviewed parents and primary caregivers of Black families in Missouri with school-aged children to better understand their experiences suddenly shifting to virtual schooling due to COVID-19.
Anakwe explains the sudden shift to virtual schooling highlighted the digital divide that already existed for many Black families, as a lack of access to reliable internet can have long-term negative impacts on learning and health outcomes.
“The COVID-19 vaccine rollout showcased how important technological resources can be for making an appointment online,” Anakwe says. “And the sudden shift from in-person health care visits to telehealth highlights the role technology can play in facilitating access to health care as well as education.”
Read the full article about digital gaps by Brian Consiglio at Futurity.
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