Poor US students miss out as virtual learning sharpens divide
Los Angeles: As a member of the 2020 "class of coronavirus," Kenia Molina needed to find a laptop in order to graduate high school -- a technology gap that has caused thousands of poorer students to miss out on weeks of education.
With many US schools and universities shut for the academic year, the Los Angeles student will be completing her final year via virtual learning on a home computer donated by her district.
"This is really important… for students that don't have any access to the internet or even have any devices, they can't even afford any devices," said Molina, wearing a protective mask and gloves as she collected her laptop.
The free computers handed out by Los Angeles school district -- second largest in the nation -- "help us to be there and connected to one another," she added.
But California's Department of Education estimates nearly 240,000 more computers are needed.
Some 7,400 of Los Angeles' 120,000 high school students have not logged in since quarantine began.
That number is down from 15,000 absentees in the first two weeks of lockdown, when at least 40,000 students had no daily contact with their teachers.
"This is something we should have been ready and prepared for years ago," said Rafael Balderas, principal of the school in Los Angeles suburb Bell where Molina studies. - AFP