Giving Compass' Take:

• With learning pods already widely available for wealthy families, Michelle Dervan at Medium explains how they could widen already growing gaps for low-income students.

• The risk of widening the gap in educational achievement is greater right now. What can you do to make sure learning pods extend their benefits to those in less-fortunate situations?

• Look for resources that help low-income and marginalized families recover from coronavirus.

The reality is dawning that most K-12 students in the United States will have minimal in-person instruction this semester and possibly beyond. Districts and schools are scrambling to up their game with online learning while parents are taking matters into their own hands with DIY homeschooling solutions.

Amongst the affluent, learning pods have emerged as a go-to solution. Although definitions vary, for most people, a learning pod is a group of parents who trust each other enough to quarantine together and share the cost of a teacher or tutor to support a small group of students while also providing childcare.

However, learning pods will play a big role in widening the gap in learning loss experienced by rich versus poor students during COVID. Whether the rich are using pods, online personal tutors, supplemental online experiences, or expensive, high-quality online schooling, they are widening the already yawning gap between their children and the children of the poor.

There are several ways we could broaden access to learning pods. One is to have the local school district operate pods for at least a subset of students. The Marin County Office of Education is doing this on school premises for pods of special education students. Nonprofits including the YMCA and religious organizations are also exploring offering space and possibly some child-care resources.

As an immigrant living in the US for the past 10 years, I deeply admire the culture of volunteerism and philanthropy that exists here. This, combined with American ingenuity, innovation, and an unparalleled ability to scale ideas, needs to be deployed now to ensure that this generation of young learners can avoid irreparable learning loss during COVID. We need to have a conversation about solutions that can reach all students and stop focusing solely on the wealthy ones.

Read the full article about learning pods by Michelle Dervan at Medium.