Almost Half Of Teens Haven’t Attended Online Class

Almost Half Of Teens Haven’t Attended Online Class

The sudden shutdown of schools across the nation has put online distance learning to the test. But according to a Common Sense Media and SurveyMonkey poll of 849 teens aged 13 to 17, this experiment is not measuring up.

The survey revealed that despite schools moving in the direction of virtual classes, 41% of respondents, as well as 47% of those in public school, admit that they haven’t attended one online lesson.

There are a variety of reasons that could explain this startling lack of attendance and engagement. First, the poll was held from March 24 to April 1, which is when many districts are on spring break. 

Secondly, there is a significant disparity in resource availability across the US. In the weeks since the closures, schools have invested in thousands of laptops to loan to students. 

Additionally, districts are working with telecom companies to provide families with the internet. Unfortunately, there is a significant need. Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, an estimated 12 million students lacked internet access in their homes.

The survey highlighted another difference between students enrolled in public and private schools. While 47% of public school students haven’t attended a virtual lesson, 18% of private school students say they have. 

The poll also reveals that there are a lot of distractions preventing teens from learning, and it’s not social media, phones, or the usual culprits. 

It observed that 4 out of 5 young people are closely tracking coronavirus-related news. Over 60% are concerned that themselves or a family member will become infected and that it will financially impact the family. For African American and Hispanic/Latino, these rates were considerably higher.

Jose Luis Vilson teaches middle school in the Washington Heights section of New York City. In an interview with NPR, Vilson concurred that the survey’s findings reflect what he has heard from students. “You think about the vast majority of the kids, they’re going through their own levels of stress.”

The teen years are stressful enough without being thrown into the changes of a worldwide pandemic. And for those living in some of the worst-hit areas in the country, like New York City, it an unprecedented challenge to growing up.

To top it off, Vilson acknowledged that many of the students’ parents or other relatives are essential workers. He said that for teachers, “we as educators have to be mindful of all those things.”

Other worries facing teens included being unable to maintain schoolwork (56%). For teenagers of color, this anxiety was higher, which was evident in 66% of African American teens and 70% of Hispanic/Latinos. 

Investigations in previous disastrous events show that young people are the most jeopardized when school is disrupted.

Often, many must work to supplement their family’s income or care for younger siblings at home. These teens are the most at risk of dropping out or continuing their education.

But there is hope. Experts say that making sure teenagers stay united to a positive community will increase their opportunity for a better future. 68% continue to correspond with their school through email. And currently, more teens say that they’re reaching out to loved ones and friends beyond the home daily.


  • Kamenetz, Anya. “4 In 10 U.S. Teens Say They Haven’t Done Online Learning Since Schools Closed.” NPR, NPR, 8 Apr. 2020,

Coronavirus Stories

About Author

Madison Powers
Madison Powers