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Survey: Parents Terrified Kids Will Fall Behind As COVID-19 Closes Schools

A padlocked entrance to Lockwood Avenue Elementary, an L.A. Unified School District campus in East Hollywood, on April 1, 2020. (Kyle Stokes/KPCC)
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Nearly 90% of California parents are worried that their children will fall behind academically while their school campuses are closed because of the coronavirus pandemic, according to results of a new statewide survey released today.

Despite this, 81% of the 1,200 parents polled by The Education Trust-West reported their schools are doing a “good” or “excellent” job addressing the crisis.

But the poll also highlights inequities in schools’ responses:

  • The digital divide. “Half of low-income families said they lack digital devices at home to facilitate distance learning,” reported EdTrust-West’s executive director Elisha Smith Arrillaga. “Nearly 40 percent worry about access to reliable internet.”
  • Teachers contacting? African American parents were less likely to report having spoken with their child’s teacher since the shutdown. Only 33% of black parents reported contact with their teacher, compared with 41% for other groups.
  • Language barriers. According to the survey, roughly 25% of parents who speak a language other than English at home said that the child’s school has not provided materials in other languages. (The survey was conducted online in both English and Spanish.)

In addition, more than 90% of parents surveyed said it would be helpful for schools to send home paper packets of instructional materials, but less than 40% say their schools are doing that — one of the many disconnects highlighted in the survey:

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At the time the survey was conducted — between March 26 and April 1 — 58% of parents reported that their school had sent home learning materials to cover, at most, two weeks of distance learning.

Things may have changed since the statewide survey was taken. For some context, at the time, LAUSD was just beginning to roll out laptops purchased as part of its $100 million emergency distance-learning device plan. The district will continue rolling out devices over the next month.