With the outbreak causing massive school closures, new learning systems, technology shortfalls, and housing and food insecurities, economically-disadvantaged students are more disproportionately impacted than ever before. And the obstacles to their college education are only bound to increase as this crisis unfolds.
Here are four ways students from low-income backgrounds are already being impacted by the pandemic – and how we can help:
1. School Closures Prevent In-Person Support.
Shutting school doors is also shutting them out of their usual support systems: their peers, counselors, career center, and more. But they still need avenues for accessing help not just with their education but with the other stressors this health crisis has caused. At 10,000 Degrees, our near-peer Fellows, who typically work right on campus helping students navigate college life, quickly pivoted to shift their one-on-one support to online – using email, texts, Google Hangouts, and more to let students know that our virtual doors are open and that we are here to support them.
2. Access to Technology Is Limited.
Students from low-income backgrounds often don’t have the required Internet access or equipment for virtual learning. While many schools have been proactive in remedying this, handing out laptops for example, not all have the means to do so. 10,000 Degrees has been working overtime to help, by collaborating with school partners, scoping out resources, and informing and connecting students to free or reduced cost equipment and Internet access.
3. There’s a Steep Virtual Learning Curve.
Shifting to new online systems hasn’t just been taxing on teachers; students from low-income backgrounds often need extra support getting up to speed on new remote tools and systems. Our 10,000 Degrees Fellows moved quickly to become digital experts, holding Google Hangout learning sessions and making step-by-step videos and tutorials for students on everything from how to access class lessons to matriculation steps.
4. Life Challenges Are Impeding School Success.
Because many students and families from low-income backgrounds are undocumented or work in the service industry, they’re bearing the brunt of this crisis, facing increased unemployment, earning losses, housing and food insecurity – not to mention the threat of being exposed or falling ill to the virus. Streamlining their access to community resources is vital. 10,000 Degrees has been working hand-in-hand with school partners and other community organizations to quickly bridge the gap to critically needed resources: We’re offering personal support, using social media and our website to post opportunities, tools, and resources, and expediting the delivery of hundreds of scholarship funds to provide emergency financial relief to students.
As we all collectively hold our breath to see how this pandemic will unfold, one thing is for certain. It is imperative that we unite as a community to help the students and families on the frontlines of this crisis surmount the challenges to their education. We invite you to learn more about our OneAmazing Community fundraiser or to visit our website.