Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates said distance learning is "inferior" to being in classrooms for younger students and online learning has exposed inequalities in technology.
"Particularly for the low-income students where the online learning hasn't been fully enabled because, you know, they don't have the equipment or the connection or the teacher is not set up for it. The inequity has gotten greater in education," Gates told CNN.
"So if we can figure out how to do K through 12 in the fall, that would be good," he said.
The digital divide: In the US, the Federal Communications Commission estimated that 21 million Americans lacked access to broadband in 2019.
The lack of a reliable internet connection to do homework was more pronounced among black, Hispanic and lower-income families, according to a Pew survey in 2015.
Another Pew survey in 2018 found that even before the pandemic, about 17% of teens between the ages of 13 and 17 said they were often – or sometimes – unable to finish homework assignments because of the lack of a connection or a computer.
Many school districts have struggled to obtain enough devices for students learning at home, which has yet to be addressed by the federal government.