With most schools closed nationwide because of the coronavirus pandemic, a national poll of young people ages 13 to 17 suggests distance learning has been far from a universal substitute.
The poll of 849 teenagers, by Common Sense Media, conducted with SurveyMonkey, found that as schools across the country transition to some form of online learning, 41% of teenagers overall, including 47% of public school students, say they haven't attended a single online or virtual class.
This broad lack of engagement with online learning could be due to many factors. The survey was conducted between March 24 and April 1; some districts may have been on spring break or not have begun regular online classes.
There are also resource gaps. In the past few weeks, school districts have purchased and started loaning out hundreds of thousands of laptops and tablets and worked with telecom providers to get families set up with Internet. But the need is large. Before the pandemic, it was estimated that about 12 million students had no broadband access at home.
There is a big gap between public and private school students in the survey, with 47% of public school students saying they have not attended a class, compared with just 18% of private school students.