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Wildfires Wreak Havoc on Bay Area Communities in the Midst of Distance Learning

As heat waves continue to strike, an unprecedented number of wildfires prove detrimental to Bay Area residents–especially students in the midst of distance learning.

Lake Berryessa, CA: Hennessy Fire is burning above Highway 128 reflecting on Lake Berryessa. (Karl Mondon/The Mercury News)

Wildfires are a direct consequence of heat waves, which have given rise to power outages, internet malfunctions, and evacuation notices. As COVID-19 runs rampant, students must stay at home and make due with distance learning. Distance learning already poses preexisting obstacles, but with heat waves causing up to 2 million internet and power outages, it is significantly more difficult to stay in contact with teachers and peers.

Emily Tran, a Silver Creek High School junior, describes her experience resorting to a hot spot whilst struggling to stay connected in class. On a hot summer’s day, the power in her neighborhood had cut out, forcing her to “support two devices with [her] hot spot.” She needed to support her little sister’s online schooling as well as her own. She continues, “It isn’t really that strong. I did it for a whole hour. I had class and it kept kicking me out of Zoom.”

Distance learning especially effects low-income students. In comparison to higher-income residencies, a ParentsTogether survey shows that households making $25,000 or less annually are more likely not to have access to devices in order to connect with school.

Residencies making less than $25,000 a year are likelier to not have access to devices for their children during distance learning. (Survey courtesy of https://parents-together.org/)

As many parents struggle to support their children through distance learning, external causes of stress such as power outages loom over students, like those in the Bay Area as temperatures rise.

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