Westchester Parents & Superintendents try to cope with remote learning due to COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us that living through a historical moment as opposed to just studying it are two radically different experiences. This past May, WCA released not one but two online surveys to assess how Westchester children and families are doing in these difficult, unsettling days from an educational and social-emotional standpoint. The Superintendents Survey received responses from 28 school districts. The reaction to the Parents Survey, which was released in English and Spanish, was overwhelming with a total of 969 responses submitted by the time the survey closed.
Together these two surveys revealed that although school administrators are doing their best to address the issues that have arisen due to the sudden switch to remote learning, there are challenges that still need to be addressed. We are also very aware that releasing the parent survey online, for efficiency and safety reasons, most likely reduced participation from families who do not have internet access at all. This is something that we must consider if and when we conduct future surveys.
Several things became quite clear as we dove into the data:
There is a technological divide between students in City Districts vs. Non-City Districts. Families in City Districts were almost 3 times as likely to request a computer for their families (31%) as opposed to families in non-city districts (11%). Preliminary evidence from both the Superintendents and the Parents Surveys indicate that families with elementary school students were more likely to make a request for a computer.
Families in the City Districts waited longer to get devices. Families in City Districts were more likely to wait for a requested computer for their child as compared to families from non-City districts. Forty-three percent (43%) of respondents from City School Districts who requested machines were either still waiting for computers at the time of completing the survey or had to wait three weeks or more. Only 10% of those respondents from non-city districts fell into that category.
Parents of students with special needs and in City Districts are particularly feeling heavier burdens. Families with special needs students are more likely to indicate that their children are “Less than OK.” Thirty-nine (39%) of households with special needs students reported that their children were less than OK, which was sixteen percentage points more than households without special needs students (23%). Parents from in City Districts were also more likely to say their children were “Less than OK” (38%) compared to their non-city counterparts (29%).
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