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Mapping The ‘Digital Divide’ Coronavirus Exposed In LA Schools

USC researchers mapped U.S. Census data from households with school-aged kids in L.A. County to show which neighborhoods had the most access to broadband internet, laptops and desktop computers. (Screenshot/USC)
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With in-person classes cancelled in schools across Los Angeles, officials have been racing to purchase laptops and secure internet connections for needy students who need them to continue learning online.

They’re trying to bridge a “great big digital divide” that’s existed for years. Today, a team of USC researchers is releasing a report showing where in L.A. that gap is widest.

The researchers from USC’s Annenberg and Price schools examined U.S. Census data from households with school-aged kids in L.A. County. Here’s what they found:

  • Overall, roughly one-quarter of these households lacked access to both broadband internet and either a laptop or desktop computer. That’s about 250,000 families in L.A. County.
  • In El Monte, Pomona and the L.A. Unified School District, that figure is closer to one-third of households, according to USC associate professor Hernan Galperin.
  • In Watts and East L.A., more than half of households are not fully connected.

The researchers mapped their findings by neighborhood. Read our full story to explore their map. >>

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Galperin, who teaches at USC’s Annenberg School, says this digital divide has existed for years. But the coronavirus has turned a big problem into an acute, educational crisis:

Kids won’t be able to be educated, and kids will drop off the map … because they’re unable to connect with the school, to teachers.