Schools provide student aid as pandemic hits the poor


By Kaitlan Nguyen, Advocate Staff

Ever since the coronavirus pandemic began, many students across the globe have had to either transition to remote learning or get left behind. Families that are financially challenged have had a greater chance of experiencing the negative aspects of remote education, such as internet access issues and access to meals.

Fortunately, there are programs in place to close the remote education gap between the rich and poor.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, over 22 million students rely on free and reduced lunch during the school year. To ensure students still have access to this program during this pandemic, the USDA has decided to continue its summer lunch program. This allows students to go to food drives, pick up their meals and go home.

The West Contra Costa Unified School District alone has distributed more than 3 million meals from March to August. Meals are provided to every student, regardless if they qualify for free or reduced lunch programs.

At most schools, teachers have resorted to using online platforms such as Zoom to communicate with their students. Thus, it is essential for students to have functional computers and internet access to attend online school.

Since the necessary equipment tends to be expensive, many students are unable to afford it.
As said by the Office of Policy Development and Research, “Household income is strongly associated with in-home Internet connectivity levels, with low-income households being less connected than higher-income households.”

Fortunately, programs such as Contra Costa College’s laptop loan program and hotspots offer computer loans and internet access at no cost. This helps low-income students have access to the required supplies for remote learning. This program is one of the many ways that CCC is leveling the playing field to ensure that all students have equal opportunities.

Unfortunately, there only a few Chromebooks available, meaning that not everyone who needs a computer will get one. According to the article “Student Communications and Chromebook Loans,” demand is incredibly high at this time. The waitlist for Chromebook loans continues to increase, leaving more students without the necessary supplies.

Although remote education has presented problems for the poor, programs are in place to help.
From food drives to computer loan programs, many people are advocating for the basic essentials required for learning. But even with these programs, many students are still left behind due to high demand.