As Bay Area schools kick off distance learning, attendance raises equity questions

Source: Mercury News

During the first week of distance learning at Summit Rainier in East San Jose, 10 of Gwindale Person’s 24 special education students didn’t log on to Zoom.

She peppered the kids and their families with calls, texts and emails, along with the help of administrators. Two weeks later, that number has slowly dwindled to two students who have proved hard to reach.

Across the state, school closures in the wake of COVID-19 have raised alarm bells for parents — but most significantly among low-income and families of color. A recent survey from the Education Trust–West, which polled 1,200 parents of California public school students, found that about 40% of low-income families across the state lack Internet access at home.

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Karla Fernandez

Communications Manager

Karla Fernandez (she/her/hers) joins Ed Trust–West as a Communications Manager with over 11 years of experience advancing social impact initiatives.

Karla started her career as a teacher at Chicago Public Schools and UIC College Prep. After teaching, Karla joined United Friends of the Children to support LA County’s youth in foster care as a college counselor. Through Leadership for Educational Equity, Karla also served as a Policy Advisor Fellow for the office of a Los Angeles Unified School Board Member. She solidified her interests in policy analysis and quantitative research during her time with the Price Center for Social Innovation, the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles, and the USC Presidential Working Group on Sustainability. Before joining The Education Trust–West, Karla was the Associate Director for the Southeast Los Angeles (SELA) Collaborative, a network of nonprofits advocating for communities in SELA.

Karla holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology from the University of Chicago, a Master of Public Policy from the USC Price School of Public Policy, and a Graduate Certificate in Policy Advocacy from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Karla is based out of southern California and is passionate about using data analysis, communications, and digital strategies for policy advocacy and social justice efforts.