Covid-19’s Effect on Underprivileged Students

In early 2020, the lives of most people around the world completely shifted. Covid-19 became the most prominent thought in the minds of all and shaped our days. The U.S. was and continues to be one of the hardest-hit countries, and the numbers continue to grow well into the fall season. One group of people that underwent a major change was students.

By August, 93 percent of households in the U.S. had experienced some form of distance learning, a new technique for every person.  Although schools undoubtedly tried their best to provide students with the same education they would get in person, this was a difficult task.  Zoom meetings, packets with countless pages of information, Google Classroom, and other items were all students had to use. Unfortunately, some were luckier than others at obtaining these resources. 

Distance learning, although difficult for all students, has a major and possibly destructive impact on underprivileged students. The students that cannot get access to their learning materials or teachers, and the districts they live in which may not be able to provide them with these items for free, suffer as a result.

During the pandemic, the U.S. Census Bureau held the Household Pulse Survey to measure the effects the pandemic has had on U.S. citizens. Data taken from May 28- June 2 showed that higher income families, making $100,000 or more had 85.8 percent of their children using online resources for school opposed to only 76.5 percent from households that made $50,000-$90,000. Those that made less than $50,000 a year had 65.8% percent using forms of online learning.

The data also found that lower income families, especially those that made less than $50,000 were more likely to strictly use paper materials for schooling. Not being able to access your teachers online and solely depending on paper materials to practically teach yourself was what lower-income students were being asked to do. Often, underprivileged students also have to take care of family members, live in not-ideal housing, and attend a neglected and struggling school district. With all these obstacles, one can assume the huge educational deficit these students have experienced as their education system fails them.

In addition to broad differences between the types of distance education kids are receiving, there are also limits to how much a family can spend to provide their children with all the materials needed. Today, many students depend on computers and the internet to keep up with their learning throughout the school year.  But data from a survey  from April 7-12 by Pew Research Center found that 21 percent said their child would not be able to finish their school work because they did not have access to  a computer and 22 percent would have to use public wifi because they did not have adequate connection within their homes. 

It is no doubt that the Covid-19 pandemic has been extremely difficult for all people, but looking at those that have less than you can show you how lucky you are. Life has taken a complete shift, and those that are already disadvantaged and losing jobs struggle even more. The pandemic has forced students to adapt to new learning environments, but many students cannot provide themselves with required materials and rely on school systems to help them which is no longer an option. Education is so important to life later on, and underprivileged students have odds stacked against them.