As California students of all ages cannot fully return to classrooms due to the COVID-19 pandemic, learning from home and the technology needed exposes the state’s digital divide. Distance learning requires computers, tablets, or other devices as well as a reliable, high-speed internet connection, but inequitable access to this technology creates a persistent digital divide that disproportionately affects low-income, Black, and Latinx students. This digital divide was affecting students’ academic achievement before the pandemic, and distance learning has likely exacerbated these existing disparities.
On January 8, Governor Gavin Newsom released his proposed 2021-22 state budget, drawing on stronger-than-expected revenues to call for a series of emergency investments to respond to the public health and economic impacts of the pandemic and provide modest relief for Californians. These much-needed emergency investments, which the governor calls for the Legislature to enact as quickly as possible in the coming weeks, include providing $600 in one-time assistance for Californians with low incomes, extending the state’s eviction moratorium, putting steps in place to reopen schools, and providing small business assistance through loans and tax credits.
Nearly 1 in 4 California low-income households with children surveyed from late August through October reported sometimes or often not having enough food to eat, according to data from the US Census Bureau looking at how COVID-19 is affecting households.
Latinx and Black households with children are far more likely to report difficulty meeting basic needs. About 8 in 10 Latinx and 7 in 10 Black households with children recently had difficulty paying for basic expenses, including food and rent.
In California, an estimated 334,000 children (3.6%) lacked health coverage in 2019 — up from a low of 3.1% in 2016. Uninsured rates are highest among American Indian/ Alaskan Native children (6.9%) and Latinx children (4.4%).