Latinx school-aged children struggle with virtual learning

By Ryan Codkind
December 8, 2020

Latinx school-aged children struggle with a wide range of issues impacting their ability to learn effectively in a virtual format as a result of the pandemic, according to a Cabrini Day presenter.

“Online learning has not been easy for any of us, but Latinos have been affected more than most,” Matthew Rutherford said during his 2020 Cabrini Day presentation on “Virtual Learning in Latinx Communities.” 

Rutherford focused on key statistics that revealed the percent of Latinx middle and high school students who participated in online classes during the spring of 2020 and compared it to the number of students from other backgrounds, including Asian and Caucasian. At least 20 percent fewer Latinx high school students participated in online classes than their Caucasian and Asian peers. Rutherford then continued to explain what factors are contributing to the problem for Latinx students.

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Latinx students have a variety of challenges when it comes to virtual learning. One of the issues that many Latinx students face is that they may not have access to a computer at home. In addition, not everyone has the same internet access, or if they do, it may not be the same level of quality. Some students have also not been as exposed to certain learning platforms and software that they need to complete their assignments.

Another major problem that Latinx students encounter is that English is not always their first language, which can create obstacles for their virtual learning. Rutherford also mentions that many Latinx students have been learning at home without the support of their parents because they need to work outside the home. Therefore, they are not always available to answer questions and assist their children with their assignments.

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At this point, Rutherford expanded his discussion on virtual learning by addressing other impacts of the pandemic on Latinx communities. One important area of concern for Latinx students is how COVID-19 will impact the economic situation of their families. They are concerned that family members may lose their jobs and not be able to provide for them. According to his presentation, “49% of Latinos say they have taken a pay cut or lost a job.” This added stress can create anxiety for both students and their families, which has an impact on their school success.

Rutherford further explained that it is not only the students who are concerned, but also the parents who worry that their children are falling behind because they do not have access to all of the resources that they need for virtual learning. He highlighted math, writing and science in the presentation as areas that are of particular concern for parents of Latinx children.   

In the conclusion of his presentation, Rutherford shared examples of how organizations are trying to address the issues resulting from COVID-19 for Latinx communities. For example, Google has donated free wifi and Chromebooks for those families in California who live in rural communities. In addition, he cited that Los Angeles Unified made a donation of $100 million dollars to help provide laptops to students in the region. While these are examples of ways in which some have been trying to address the obstacles to virtual learning, there are still many issues that are impacting this community. Even with some resources being provided, the pandemic still poses major threats for Latinx students.

Ryan Codkind

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