Everywhere you look, school districts are announcing plans to begin the fall with remote learning to continue slowing the spread of the coronavirus. It’s happening in Los Angeles. Same thing in San Diego. Oh, and in Houston, in Montgomery County, Maryland, and so on and so forth. 

Whether those districts and others like them can provide a robust and useful online learning environment for their students is something else entirely, says Chiefs for Change CEO Mike Magee. 

“This is all a work in progress for everyone,” Magee told Project Forever Free’s Erika Sanzi on the latest episode of the “Liberty Through Learning” Facebook Live broadcast. 

But acknowledging the difficulties of educating kids amid the ongoing COVID-19 school shutdown is not enough, Magee says. There are certain non-negotiables he says all districts must be required to provide to their students. 

“You have to have a high-quality online learning platform, you just have to,” Magee says. “And you have to have kids connected to the internet if you want this to be equitable.”

Magee says he and his Chiefs for Change colleagues have encountered a number of different successful districts doing exactly that since schools closed their doors amid the first case spikes in the spring. 

Magee says Broward County and Miami-Dade County in Florida are districts the rest of the country can emulate because of the online learning portals they had already established by the time the pandemic struck. Students in those districts were better able to access, navigate, and complete their assignments in systems they were already familiar with and whose technological kinks had already been worked out. 

You Can’t Learn If You Can’t Get Online

In addition to providing good remote instruction, kids need to be able to access the internet for school—and it should be provided to them. But recent estimates put the number of students without access at 15 million—nearly a third of all students in the U.S. 

We can all get involved in the movement to provide internet to all students during this crisis. That’s what the Citizen Education “Access Denied” series is all about. Tune into that show on our Facebook Live every Friday at noon Eastern to learn more about which districts are doing it right, local initiatives to give internet to low-income students, and more. 

Episode 2: How Chicago Is Conquering the Digital Divide & What We can Learn (ft. Kids First Chicago)

I didn’t believe it when folks reached out about Chicago’s plan to provide FREE, no-string internet to low-income families. But it’s a real thing happening. Join me on this second episode as I talk to families, school leaders and advocates on how Chicago fought for no-strings internet access and won.

Posted by Citizen Ed on Friday, July 10, 2020

What are your experiences with distance learning so far? How have your districts responded to the COVID crisis? What are the online learning options available to your family? 

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