How Might Student Inequality Increase As Schools Reopen?

Aug 4, 2020

Two students preparing for the school year
Credit https://www.flickr.com/photos/83633410@N07/7658261288

School is beginning and while many students will be attending in-person classes, online education will still play a large role in their learning this fall. Some educators and parents worry about how this could increase inequity between students.

 

“I am really worried about families where there isn't an option, where they have to send children to school, whether they feel safe doing so or not, or they just don't have the technology, the capability, the support, even the patience to give the kids the education and support that they need," said Bobbie Mauss, a Salt Lake City parent.

Mauss has decided to continue home education for her children this fall and to supplement their studies with resources from their school district and whatever she can find online. She said she feels lucky she can make this choice. 

"My bigger concern actually isn't for families who can afford a tutor. It's for families who might not have access to things like the internet, or the technology or programs or devices that they need for their kids to actually succeed in an online learning environment," Mauss said.

In the Salt Lake City School District, students will return to learning after Labor Day with all online coursework and a promise that in person schooling will begin as soon as it is safe. To address the concerns of inequality, officials are trying to ensure all students have access to laptops and internet access. 

Steven Phelphs, a teacher at Lakeridge Junior High in Orem, said  hese problems will be hard to solve. 

"This idea of loss learning, which is happening, you can offer compensatory services. So things like summer school to help them get caught up," Phelphs said. "Now, I mean, if you can offer some small integrated classes, with very limited number of students, that would be an option as well. You just have to kind of think outside of the box on how to solve that problem 

 

Students, teachers and staff at Phelphs’s school will be returning to their building on Aug. 18 for in-person instruction. Phelps hopes this may be delayed or changed to a hybrid model