Leah Ritchie is a senior at Michigan State University with majors in finance and journalism, and a minor in media photography. Her journalistic experience includes social media and blog content creation, as well as research assistance on the topic of crisis communication strategies and media theory.
The digital divide among students with different at-home resources has existed for years, but the pandemic brings the gap to the state’s attention. Full-time remote learning has revealed disparities beyond devices and internet access, including varied transportation, tech support, and parental support available to students at home.
Access to devices is just the start
Cathy Mikesell, a 4th grade teacher in the Woodhaven school district, said students in Downriver districts are generally equipped with devices and Wi-Fi. “Everybody in my class, and I think in my school, has the internet,” she said. “If they didn’t have a computer, the school gave them a Chromebook. We’re really good with that, and that’s not the case everywhere, I’m sure.”
Rachel Lott, a speech therapist from Southgate, also said her district had plenty of devices to spare.
The Class of 2021 is entering the job market after a year of pandemic-related workplace shutdowns. Employers are reopening their doors this spring, but many prospective graduates missed out on a year of vital professional experience and networking. According to Recruiting Trends: 2020-2021, a study by Dr. Phil Gardner from Michigan State University’s Collegiate Employment Research Institute, the pandemic brought college recruiting to a standstill in 2020. Internships and co-ops were hit harder then full-time positions. Approximately 40% of employers cut summer programs last year.
Lauren Hinkel, a career adviser at Michigan State University, said internship opportunities depend on companies’ preferences.
Remote learning meant to protect students and slow the spread of COVID-19 has spurred another condition: burnout. Online class formats and the widespread cancellation of extracurriculars are hurting students’ desire for school.
Classes are still in session, but students do not believe they are learning with the same quality they did face-to-face. Some say it is difficult to engage enough to fully comprehend the material.
Joslyn Kaiser, a senior at Gabriel Richard High School, attributes the problem to a lack of focus. “I do struggle especially because I’m in my own home and I’m mostly likely still in my pajamas,” she said. “So, it’s pretty much like I roll out of bed and join a class.
In January, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said she wished to see Michigan K-12 schools return to in-person instruction by March 1. Several of the state’s best K-12 front-line instructors, designated as top teachers in various award competitions, say how they think that can happen safely. Some have already been teaching in person. Others are waiting to return. Janine Scott
Janine Scott, Davis Aerospace Technical High School, Detroit, Michigan, Region 10 Michigan Teacher of the Year 2020-2021, 11th grade math teacher
“So, I am teaching virtually now, no in-class, and the governor said that she would like for all schools to have something open for kids.
Michigan high school athletes and supporters rallied at the Capitol Jan. 30, appealing to the governor to end the COVID postponement of sports
A young crowd, mostly masked, was peaceful, in contrast to recent rallies at this and other Capitols. The students said that sports keep them engaged in school, lift their mental health in dark times and help some of them get into college.
Several who attended said they would like Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to acknowledge their #letusplay #letthemplay peaceful demonstration and their demand for a quick return to sports.