School districts are working to ensure all students have internet access

Published: Jul. 27, 2020 at 6:16 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Many school districts re-opening plans include remote learning, but an essential part is making sure students have internet access.

Many school districts are allowing families to choose online learning if they don’t feel comfortable with their child returning to a classroom in-person.

Some districts say they are working hard to be sure lack of internet access doesn’t take away the option.

Topeka’s Jardine Elementary principal says remote learning will look different in the fall semester.

“The accountability is going to be far different than it was in the spring,” Principal of Jardine Elementary, Angela Pomeroy said. “We’re back to having to meet those daily instructional minutes. Now what we’re looking at instead of missing an hour zoom call it could be longer.”

Topeka Public Schools are returning 100 percent remotely for their first phase. USD 501 says it brings challenges.

Angela “How can we make sure that we’re getting some face time with those students who are unable to log on,” Pomeroy said. “People are back at work and so that’s been the biggest thing we’ve been tasked with is how are you going to work through that - because we don’t really have the option to not let somebody log on this time.”

While USD 437 students are returning to the classroom, families may choose to work remote.

“About 8 or 9 percent of our students definitely would like to return in a remote phase. some of our areas in our district that are rural and there is not a reliable method at providing internet access,” Director of Communications with USD 437, Martin Weishaar said.

When schools went virtual in spring, USD 501 set up communal hot-spots, and worked with families. They’re working on similar solutions for fall.

“We’re not going to let anybody not be able to do something. so how do we remove the barrier and how do we support those families,” Pomeroy emphasized.

“We do have devices available that we can send home to students if they need one,” Weishaar added.

Geary County says it will provide a laptop and wireless hot-spot devices to students who lack internet access.

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