15,000 LA high school students absent from online learning since coronavirus shut down schools

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Some 15,000 Los Angeles high school students have not participated in any online learning since schools were forced to shut down in wake of coronavirus, new data shows.

On top of that, a further 26,000 of the 105,000 high school students participating in online classes have not checked in on a daily basis since institutions closed on March 16, although some of those students may have been assigned coursework that did not require logging on.

The figures, released by Supt. Austin Beutner on Monday, demonstrate how difficult the transition to online learning in wake of coronavirus shutting down schools, is proving.

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Members of the humanitarian aid organization Community Organized Relief Effort (CORE), and Los Angeles Fire Department officials, help distribute COVID-19 testing kits to pre-registered patients at the Lincoln Park, one of the Los Angeles City COVID-19 drive-through test sights in Los Angeles, Monday, March 30, 2020.

Members of the humanitarian aid organization Community Organized Relief Effort (CORE), and Los Angeles Fire Department officials, help distribute COVID-19 testing kits to pre-registered patients at the Lincoln Park, one of the Los Angeles City COVID-19 drive-through test sights in Los Angeles, Monday, March 30, 2020.
(AP)

“It’s simply not acceptable that we lose touch with 15,000 young adults or that many students aren’t getting the education they should be,” Beutner said Monday. “This will take some time and a good bit of trial and error to get it right. And it will take the continued patience and commitment of all involved — students, families and teachers.”

About 25 percent of L.A Unified’s 600,000 students don’t have internet access to home, according to EdSource. L.A Unified is the country’s second-largest schools district.

Last week, the district said it was investing $100 million in providing Chromebooks and tablets, as well as free internet access in conjunction with Verizon, to all students who did not already have it.

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“The great big digital divide many have spoken about is very real in the communities we serve,” Beutner said.

He said many who have been disconnected include the “most vulnerable students”.

“It might be students in the foster system. It might be students who are experiencing homelessness. It might be students who were living in deep poverty. Those are students who struggle with attendance in ordinary times.

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“The harder part is not the technology,” he said. “The harder part is establishing a connection to the student. And I don’t mean a digital connection. I mean that human connection of some sort.”

UC Berkeley education and African American studies professor Janelle Scott told the Los Angeles Times: “This crisis has laid bare what we always knew — how equitable opportunities are so dependent on parental background and wealth and access to resources.

“Having a physical school does really matter and having caring adults around who can support children and family is vital.”

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As of Monday night, California had more than 7,400 coronavirus cases, the third most in the country after New York and New Jersey. Some 146 people have died, the state with the sixth highest death toll.

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