Since COVID-19 first shut down in-person learning, Seattle Public Schools (SPS) has distributed devices and internet for thousands of students. But for months, district officials haven’t be able to answer these questions with certainty:
How many kids actually need the technology? And does it work well enough to meet remote learning demands?
They’re questions central to conducting school online and closing digital access and learning gaps, especially for Seattle, whose schools appear to be staying remote for the foreseeable future.
But after school buildings closed last spring, Seattle and other districts didn’t take complete stock of how many students needed devices and internet, instead relying on student poverty rates and drawing estimates from surveys. As a result, data on technology access for students during the pandemic has been spotty.
About 4,000 of SPS’ over 50,000 students haven’t been engaging regularly with online learning this fall, half of whom the district