School Internet in a Time of Pandemic

My sister teaches third grade in Los Angeles. Her classes have now moved completely online. She is at a private school, and students have access to computers and bandwidth at home.

That is often not true. School districts across the US are scrambling to make sure students have devices and internet access. Some districts, including Philadelphia, are not moving classes online due to equity issues.

But what about the millions of schools across the planet that have yet to receive bandwidth? For them, moving online is not an option. Already weak instruction will now be completely suspended as countries impose lockdowns. Students without internet access will now fall further behind.

This likely will not be true in coming years. As broadband expands globally, particularly through LEO satellites, companies and governments will have the option to provide free or subsidized connectivity during crises (as is happening with telecoms in the US during Covid-19). Today the digital divide grows during a Pandemic. In the next few years that may not be necessary.

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