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How COVID-19 has impacted everyday life in America

  • How COVID-19 has impacted everyday life in America

    Scarcely any aspect of life in America is untouched by the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Millions of people have lost their jobs, millions more have seen their hours cut, and untold numbers of people fear they could lose their incomes any day.

    The economy is setting records for bad news. Workers have had to choose among keeping their jobs, taking care of family members at home, and trying to protect themselves and stay healthy.

    Small businesses are closing. Company expansions and job creation are suspended at best, if not canceled altogether. Trips to the grocery store are stressful episodes, from worries overexposure to the coronavirus to worries over having enough money to feed a hungry family.

    Children have been stuck at home. The fortunate ones are doing schoolwork on laptops and tablets, but many are trying to learn lessons over cellphones, and too many lack online access altogether. Practicing social skills, making friends, and playing games at recess are on hold. Parents, teachers, and administrators make agonizing choices over sending children back into actual classrooms.

    With less money, Americans are trying to put meals on the table, but food prices are rising. Dinner in a restaurant is a thing of the past. Millions of households each day struggle over how to pay basic bills. Children whose most nutritious meal of the day was their school lunch are going hungry.

    Thousands of people are lining up for help from charities and food pantries. A record number of Americans are behind in their rent and mortgage payments, with potential evictions looming for millions of families.

    Underlying it all is the effect COVID-19 has had on America’s mental health. The number of people with anxiety and depression has hit perilously high numbers. But millions do not have the health insurance they need for quality treatment.

    To examine how life in America has changed during the COVID-19 pandemic, Stacker used data from the Household Pulse Survey, a U.S. Census survey conducted from April to July 2020 that specifically evaluated how the pandemic impacted Americans' daily life. Stacker chose 25 metrics from the survey, including education, employment loss, food security, health, and housing. For each metric, we pulled national- and state-level figures. Data in this story are as of July 29, reflecting the 12th and final week of the Household Pulse Survey, July 16-21.

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  • Average time spent teaching children: Overall

    - Average time for the United States: 4.4 hours per week

    Teachers say they are spending less time on instruction and introducing new material and more time on review, and that students are spending only about half as much time on learning as they once were. Some schools have advised against teaching new material, concerned over parents’ abilities to oversee at-home learning or trying to limit children’s screen time.

  • Average time spent teaching children: Demographics

    States with the highest time spent:
    - #1. Washington D.C. (7.3 hours per week, 65.9% above national average)
    - #2. Nevada (6.6 hours per week, 50% above national average)
    - #3. Alabama (6.1 hours per week, 38.6% above national average)

    States with the lowest time spent:
    - #51. Nebraska (1.9 hours per week, 56.8% below national average)
    - #49. South Dakota (2.2 hours per week, 50% below national average)
    - #49. North Dakota (2.2 hours per week, 50% below national average)

    The state superintendent of schools in North Dakota recently said remote instruction could worsen what she called “Swiss cheese” gaps in learning, when students fall behind in certain areas and skim past topics they have not mastered, rather than catch up, building a fragile foundation of knowledge.

  • Average time spent with children contacting teachers: Overall

    - Average time for the United States: 1.3 hours per week

    Regions where teachers are communicating with students less frequently risk creation of an underclass of children with fewer skills and less academic achievement, experts say. The head of the Center on Reinventing Public Education testified before Congress that students could fall into “academic death spirals,” where failure leads to more failure.

  • Average time spent with children contacting teachers: Demographics

    States with the highest time spent:
    - #1. New York (2.6 hours per week, 100% above national average)
    - #2. Maryland (2.5 hours per week, 92.3% above national average)
    - #3. California (2.4 hours per week, 84.6% above national average)

    States with the lowest time spent:
    - #51. North Dakota (0.2 hours per week, 84.6% below national average)
    - #48. Alaska (0.4 hours per week, 69.2% below national average)
    - #48. Montana (0.4 hours per week, 69.2% below national average)
    - #48. Maine (0.4 hours per week, 69.2% below national average)

    Research has found that teachers in rural areas were less likely to hold regular video conferences with students than teachers in cities and the suburbs. One English instructor in central Maine said teachers were supposed to check in with their students weekly. She said the contact became more about her students’ wellness as she saw how many were isolated at home and helping younger siblings with their schoolwork while their parents were out at work.

  • Households with students learning online: Overall

    - Total households: 44.2 million (72.1% of households with children in public or private school)

    Having students learning online had an impact on more than 41 million U.S. workers who care for at least one school-age child. Of those workers, almost 34 million have one or more children under 14 and are likely to need school for child care purposes. As for the students, they are not always engaged and do not complete assignments, especially when parents are out at work or not tech-savvy.

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  • Households with students learning online: Demographics

    States with the highest share of population impacted:
    - #1. North Dakota (90.2%, 25.2% above national average)
    - #2. Minnesota (87.7%, 21.7% above national average)
    - #3. Rhode Island (87.2%, 21.1% above national average)

    States with the lowest share of population impacted:
    - #51. Tennessee (38.6%, 46.5% below national average)
    - #50. Mississippi (45.2%, 37.3% below national average)
    - #49. West Virginia (47.4%, 34.3% below national average)

    Places like West Virginia have low rates of children learning online in part because of a critical lack of broadband coverage. About one in six residents lacks access to a high-speed network, although in some sections of the rural state, that number increases to more than half. West Virginia’s governor has announced plans to set up more than 1,000 Wi-Fi hotspots around the state so that students can take virtual classes. But local school officials say even getting to those hotspots can pose a transportation problem in large and sparsely populated counties.

  • Households where students had classes canceled: Overall

    - Total households: 26 million (42.4% of households with children in public or private school)

    Not only were classes canceled, but also assemblies, performing arts, athletics, College Board Advanced Placement and SAT preparation and tests, graduation ceremonies, and school trips.

    For fall, while schools struggle with reopening classrooms, many decided early on that sports programs would be canceled. Eliminating after-school and weekend activities allows custodial staff to be redeployed to weekday hours and bolster cleaning and disinfecting measures, eliminates exposure risks from athletes, coaches, and fans from other districts, and reins in costs for financially strapped school budgets.

  • Households where students had classes canceled: Demographics

    States with the highest share of population impacted:
    - #1. West Virginia (70.7%, 66.8% above national average)
    - #2. Iowa (69.7%, 64.3% above national average)
    - #3. Tennessee (69.5%, 64% above national average)

    States with the lowest share of population impacted:
    - #51. Washington D.C. (17.8%, 58% below national average)
    - #50. North Dakota (19.6%, 53.8% below national average)
    - #49. Rhode Island (23.7%, 44% below national average)

    In Iowa, the governor called on schools to halt classes for a month when the outbreak began.

    But for fall, Gov. Kim Reynolds said she is requiring Iowa’s students spend at least half of their school time physically in classrooms, overriding decisions by local schools and drawing criticism from the state teachers union.

  • Households where students have easy device access: Overall

    - Total households: 49.2 million (80.2% of households with children in public or private school)
    --- Households where a device is always available: 35.9 million (58.4%)
    --- Households where a device is usually available: 13.3 million (21.7%)

    Roughly one in six children live in homes without a laptop or desktop computer, while many more must share one device with their siblings. But the term “device” can be deceptive—about 30% of parents say it is somewhat likely their children are doing schoolwork on a cellphone. Among low-income families, the figure rises to 43% of parents who say that scenario is somewhat, if not very, likely.

  • Households where students have easy device access: Demographics

    States with the highest share of population impacted:
    - #1. New Hampshire (91.6%, 14.2% above national average)
    - #2. Rhode Island (90.5%, 12.9% above national average)
    - #3. Minnesota (89.2%, 11.3% above national average)

    States with the lowest share of population impacted:
    - #51. Mississippi (54.7%, 31.8% below national average)
    - #50. South Dakota (71.2%, 11.2% below national average)
    - #49. Oklahoma (72%, 10.2% below national average)

    Oklahoma’s Department of Education just announced a plan to provide 50,000 mobile internet connections and devices to 175 school districts, with an emphasis on getting them to low-income students. About one-fifth of the resources will go to public schools in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The plan was paid for with federal coronavirus relief funds.

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