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The Washington Post: D.C. had a summer to connect with students and close the digital divide. Did it?

August 24, 2020

Photo of woman picking up devices.

With a week left until an all-virtual start to DC’s academic year, Children’s Law Center has heard from many District families who do yet have the technology or technical support their children need to participate in distance learning. Ensuring that children are able to access their lessons and successfully participate in school is critical. That’s why CLC client Donna Black spoke with Perry Stein of the Washington Post to share her family’s experience and frustrations with the digital divide.

Donna Black and her children are among the families who still need computers and Internet access. She and her seven school-age children are homeless and lived in the Quality Inn motel this spring with a single cellphone and no Internet. When she went to her daughter’s high school to pick up a laptop, school administrators told her they were out.

Two weeks before the school year ended, she procured two ­iPads, but she didn’t have reliable Internet in her hotel room. The children instead completed the paper academic packets their school provided and had little interaction with teachers.

But Black is hoping the fall will be different. She has made appointments with her children’s elementary school to pick up tech devices for them and is waiting to hear back from her daughter’s high school. She wonders whether there is a way to get headphones so all the children can participate in their classes in a single room.

“It was really unfair. They wanted to be able to socialize and see their friends and see their teachers,” Black said. “If they all get devices of their own, I think next year can be pretty good.”

Read the full article here.

Photo credit: Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post