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Education services companies provide learning resources in crisis

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      By Imani CampESG Senior Research Analyst, Calvert Research and Management

      Washington -- As the world continues social distancing practices, children remain out of the classroom and parents are tasked with continuing regularly scheduled education. There are nearly 57 million school-aged children in the United States, yet just 3.4% of this population or approximately 2 million students were home-schooled in the United States last year. Today, students (and their parents) face the real possibility that with social distancing guidelines, they will all join the homeschooled for the foreseeable future.

      While the idea of homeschooling seems as easy as turning on the computer and launching an internet browser, for some families it may be challenging due to lack of equipment or internet access. At this time, an estimated 12 million public school students (more than the total number of homeschooled students in 2019) lack internet access in their homes.

      To help these students access remote learning, AT&T is offering wireless data service at no cost for 60 days to qualified schools that activate new lines for school-issued tablets, LTE-enabled laptops and hotspot devices. The company is also offering services that enable teachers and students to set up video meetings, share files and collaborate on assignments at no additional cost.1 Verizon has partnered directly with the Los Angeles Unified School District (the second largest in the US, with 700,000 students) to provide internet access to all students without service at home. Additionally, the company has tripled the data allowance for schools already enrolled in the Verizon Innovative Learning Program, helping 116,000 students through June 30.2

      For those who do have access to remote learning resources, parents and students are learning to navigate a new normal that may ultimately change the way students learn and increase the resources available to children in rural or underserved communities. In addition, children are learning important technology-based skills that are relevant in the workforce of the future.

      Education services companies have an opportunity to shine through the crisis and expand their user base. K-12, an online platform that offers services that facilitate individualized learning for students in kindergarten through grade 12 is providing free access to content that is normally available for a fee. Through June 30, 2020, the company will let students utilize an expansive online literary library, available to all secondary education levels, game-based learning programs for elementary and middle school students, summer programs for middle and high school students, and learning solutions that school districts can assign for everyday distance learning curriculum. 3 Chegg, an online company that provides services ranging from book rentals and sales to tutoring and homework help platforms, has compiled a list of resources that students and their families can access to help during this unprecedented time of social distancing. Chegg's resource list covers a range of topics for grade levels including post-secondary education.

      These actions can build brand recognition, grow the user base and drive customer loyalty that will ultimately impact the company's sales and profit potential - drivers of long-term value creation.

      Bottom line: Schools in some cities have already declared that their students will remain at home for the duration of the 2019-2020 school year. With millions of students forced into remote learning, communications and education services companies have an opportunity to help parents meet homeschooling needs for their children and build brand loyalty even after the students have returned to the classroom.