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A student works on his laptop in his socially distanced protective learning pod at a remote learning hub in Culver City, California. Photo: Mario Tama via Getty

Seven families filed a lawsuit in California Monday, alleging that the state has failed to ensure "basic educational equality" during the pandemic, which has forced millions of students into remote learning.

Why it matters: Remote learning puts students of color and low-income students at greater disadvantages, reports show. As the U.S. continues to debate the issue of reopening schools, it's the marginalized students who are suffering the costs.

The big picture: In the court filing, the plaintiffs claim the state refuses to "step up and meet its constitutional obligation" to ensure equal education for underserved students such as Black and Latino students from low-income backgrounds.

  • Per the suit, shifting to remote learning in March meant some students now have to work in a single room with other family members. Students without homes might not be able to access internet at all.
  • Their lack of access to "the devices, connectivity, adaptive technologies and other digital tools necessary for remote education" puts them at higher risk of falling behind their more privileged peers, according to court documents.
  • Other barriers to learning include "difficulty getting devices and software to work, absence of academic or mental health supports, English language barriers and unmet needs for students experiencing homelessness."
  • Even if reopening schools isn’t possible, plaintiffs say, the state still needs to meet its obligation to create equal opportunity for all students.

Context: Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) tightened restrictions this month, creating more challenges for school districts looking to reopen.

Go deeper: The COVID-19 learning cliff

Go deeper

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Jan 21, 2021 - Health

Fighting COVID-19's effects on gender equality

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Women around the world have borne a disproportionate brunt of the social and economic effects of COVID-19.

Why it matters: Women in the U.S. and around the world already faced an unequal playing field before the pandemic. As countries prepare for the post-COVID-19 world, they need to take special care to ensure the virus doesn't permanently set back the cause of gender equality.

Florida requiring proof of residency to get coronavirus vaccine

A man receives a COVID-19 vaccine from a health care worker at a drive-thru site at Tropical Park on Jan. 13 in Miami. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Florida's surgeon general issued new guidelines on Thursday requiring people seeking COVID-19 vaccines to provide proof of permanent or seasonal residency.

Driving the news: Of the more than 1 million people who have received the first dose of the vaccine in Florida as of Wednesday, over 39,000 reside out of state, per data from the Florida Department of Health. The number and reports of out-of-state recipients have caused concern over what many have described as "vaccine tourism."

Jan 22, 2021 - Health

Hong Kong to put tens of thousands on lockdown as coronavirus cases surge

Hong Kong health workers patrol a street where COVID-19 cases have been confirmed. Photo: Anthony Kwan via Getty Images

Hong Kong will place tens of thousands of residents on lockdown to curtail outbreaks in neighborhoods with aging, subdivided apartments, the government announced Thursday.

Why it matters: It’s the first time Hong Kong has imposed a lockdown since the pandemic began. The restrictions will begin Saturday and last for at least two weeks.