North Carolina students report spending more time virtual learning than most other states

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Laptops and internet access remain top school supplies as many students return to school virtually this fall.

Data collected from the U.S. Census Bureau uncovered access and funding for both devices and internet varied across the country.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the U.S. Census Bureau conducted surveys across the country to understand how the novel coronavirus is impacting Americans. An analysis of the data by the ABC-Owned Television Stations found 6% of families reported their children 'rarely' or 'never' had access to electronic devices.

In many parts of the country, Oklahoma (12%), New Mexico (12.4%), South Dakota (13.7%), this percent was even higher.

Sixty percent of North Carolina families surveyed reported 'always' having devices available and just 4% reported 'rarely' or 'never'.

In the spring, many schools had to scramble to purchase devices and hotspots to fill these gaps, still the data shows a majority of families (70%) reported providing their students with computers and internet (91.8%), rather than relying on schools or another agency to provide the technology.

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North Carolina ranked eighth in the country for the percent of families who reported their school paid for their student's internet. Just over 3% of families reported that their child's school funded internet access. Elsewhere in the country, as few as 0.1% of families' surveys reported schools covered internet costs.

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The data shows schools were more likely to fund devices for students than pay for internet. As many as 61% of North Dakota families reported schools paid for their students' computers.

North Carolina ranked slightly below the U.S. average, with 34.7% of families reporting their device was received through the school.

Laptops and internet access are only as good as the time students spend on them. The Census data showed students reported only spending an average of 4.4 hours on their own leaning a week and only 1.5 hours in a live virtual setting.

Minnesota, Arkansas and North Dakota reported students spent half that amount of time learning virtually.

Based on the survey, students in North Carolina ranked among the top 10 states on reported time spent learning each week at 5.1 hours. However, the state fell to 20th in the country for hours spent in live classroom settings. New York students reported spending double the amount of time in live classrooms than North Carolina with three hours every week.
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