In Internet Dead Zones, Rural Schools Struggle With Distanced Learning

from KQED

The past seven months have been a big strain on families like Mandi Boren’s.

The Borens are cattle ranchers on a remote slice of land near Idaho’s Owyhee Mountains. They have four kids — ranging from a first grader to a sophomore in high school. When the lockdown first hit, Boren first thought it might be a good thing. Home schooling temporarily could be more efficient, plus there’d be more family time and help with the chores.

“I thought, I’ll be able to get my kids’ schooling done in a few hours and then they’ll be to work with dad, and no problem it will be great,” Boren says, chuckling. “Well, it didn’t turn out so great.”

That’s because all four kids — in addition to Boren, who telecommutes — were suddenly plugged into the family’s satellite Internet, which is spotty on a good day. You can forget trying to use Zoom or Google Classroom.

“I soon found out that our Internet speeds were so slow, we had to spread it out all week long actually,” Boren says. “We were doing schooling on Saturdays and Sundays as well.”

More here.

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43 Comments

  1. In the age of the coronavirus, working and learning from home has become the new normal. Parents were used to dropping their kids off at work and then heading to their job. Kids would have their normal routine of waking up and then going to school for seven hours. Because of the pandemic, everything has changed. Parents and children are forced to conduct work and learning from school. One big thing comes into play when we discuss remote learning for students: internet connection. In major states, having a strong internet connection is never really a problem. We can be almost anywhere and we are able to have strong cellular networks and many WiFi networks to join. While it might be nice and easy to conduct schoolwork in the tri-state area where I am from, it is much more difficult for students that live in rural areas. These areas are known as dead zones because it is not easy to get a strong enough internet connection. This poses major problem for kids because if they do not have a strong enough signal, they are not able to connect to the internet, join live classes, and submit homework over the internet. This put these kids at a major disadvantage then kids who are learning in suburbs or cities. We are living in a technological revolution. New products are and capabilities are constantly being introduced to the public. Maybe some companies should look at improving signals in these dead zones. These kids have probably been living in the same homes and areas their entire lives. For most of their lives, they were able to go to school and learn in person. Internet connection was probably not that big of a deal because they were learning face to face. They should not have to be at a disadvantage because where they live has bad connection. It would probably be best if these types of schools that have these problems with their students to adjust their teaching methods, so no one is at a disadvantage. Hopefully, everything involving the coronavirus will come to an end soon and we can put all of this behind us. It is time for everyone to get back to their old way of life. Strong or slow internet connection, students need to be learning in the classroom when the first day it is safe to return to school. It is the only way students can properly learn the materials being taught to them in all their different classes.

  2. With Corona Virus affecting the many lives of Americans, as well as those across the globe, we have learned to adjust out every day lives around this virus that is taking the world by storm. One of the major issues it presents is the basic day-to-day in school learning. What changes Corona Virus had on the day-to-day learning is that we need to be six feet apart from our classmates and faculty and wear masks for an entire school day. Luckily, we have advanced technology where instead of going to school, we use our laptops at home and learn from there. The one problem this presents is, what about the schools in more rural areas that don’t have this advanced type of technology? For them, distancing in school is going to be difficult as they cannot do what some schools are doing right now. Some schools have half online during the week and half in person during the week which cuts the amount of students in school in half. Rural schools who don’t have access to the type of technology that will allow this need to have all their students in school five days a week, and this is presenting a major situation. The kids who do have this type of technology at home are struggling because it is not as effective. The Borens thought it would be easy, but all their kids connected to the satellite internet at the same time which is “spotty on a good day”. This is causing them to spread out all there work and even do school on the weekends. And people who don’t have internet still need to be taught school and they tried fixing this by delivering hard copies of the work from school, but it works till a certain extent. Online schooling works, but not for the rural areas and there needs to be a change in those areas, so the kids can get a proper education while in a pandemic.

  3. When this pandemic started, we had no idea what we had in store with us in our future with current jobs and education. Will we be in person preforming the tasks that we do on a normal basis or are we going to be all virtual? Today, we are all virtual. Companies and school assume that everyone has access to the internet at home so they can learn and complete work for your employer. But in some areas of the United States that is not the case. We thought the main issue for this problem would be with kids that live in the city and low-income housing. We thought they would not have the proper materials to get their schoolwork done. But actually, the bigger issue is the rural kids that live in the country.

    The Borens live on a cattle ranch in a remote slice of land near a mountain range in Idaho. This family has been changed for the time being. Once the shutdown started, they already know that it would not be a smart move to try to let their kids struggle trying to access the school online network to go to class and complete homework. The Borens had to make a tough decision to eventually homeschool their four kids. This would be a difficult task to handle because the parents have to devote all their time trying to teach their four kids ranging from first grade to a sophomore in high school. Homeschooling takes away from the parents’ jobs of running a cattle farm which could eventually hurt the family as a whole. Even homeschooling is a task. All four kids and the father cannot be on the internet at the same time because on a good day, it’s still very spotty. They found a solution and made a schedule to make sure everything that needed to be done on the internet was done. These challenges are very hard to overcome, but we are learning new ways to tackle difficult task thrown to us by the world we live in.

  4. As someone who is learning and completing all the required schoolwork from about two hours away from the university I am attending, I can confirm this is quite the interesting experience. My Internet has never been especially fast nor is it known to even run at a standard level of what may be expected. Even worse, when a professor is having one-on-one interactions with someone and suddenly their voice distorts into a mixed assortment of robotic sounds that could be misconstrued as the cries of lost souls, mindlessly wandering the depths of Hell. It genuinely sounds that terrible, sometimes. A few minutes of “down” Internet could potentially cost you an entire letter grade on an assignment. Every moment is important when learning online because you lack the resources to have as in-depth conversation as you might have had, if you were present on the campus. Unfortunately, I am not in a financially secure-enough position to be able to afford living nearby, as of now. Soon, I will be, but not yet. A priority is to have better Internet connections, and that is truly easier said than done because I live in a relatively large home with parents who bring in a decent amount of income, yet the WiFi here is slower than at McDonald’s. At times, it can really embarrass me or make me uncomfortable having to ask the professor repeat what he or she said, just to have my Internet spasm all over again. The worst case is a lack of knowledge surrounding technology, too. Thankfully, Professor Shannon is adept in technological functions because it truly accelerates the learning curve in a classroom. Meanwhile, while I have the upmost respect for professors at Seton Hall University who know their craft as well as the back of their hands, the constant technical errors we run into during class serve as a major distraction. Most times, it has prevented the students from interacting with the professors completely. Hence, there are some issues we run into when discussing virtual-only classrooms, or remote learning.

    Despite these complaints that I have for online learning, I actually love the opportunity presented to me. My closest friends attend several other universities, and typically complain about the complications to learning online. Meanwhile, I cannot stop thinking about how much money I have saved for being able to live at home temporarily and not pay rent somewhere else. Northern New Jersey is not known to be the cheapest of areas. In fact, New Jersey as a whole happens to be one of the most expensive places to live within the United States of America. I am always willing to give someone or something a break when the circumstance deems it necessary. For example, this is effectively the early stages of what could be a transcendent future for the way we learn. If this were an option for all four years of schooling, I would certainly take it! Also, this came as a result of a highly unprecedented pandemic with COVID-19 going around, so it is best to stay safe and learn from a distance rather than risking getting so ill that showing up would never be an inconceivable option. I may sound ignorant on the matter, but I believe temporary governmental assistance is needed in supporting families who struggle with financial distress and providing WiFi services during this time. An education is an essential asset in life; a pandemic should not inhibit it, no matter the costs.

  5. COVID has made many Americans face problems head on. Like the one mentioned in the article, internet activity in rural areas. Living in a rural part of any state can be difficult because everything is far away and internet connections do not go that far. Although many people living in rural areas did not see this as a problem before, but now with their kids going to school through the internet, this problem has to be solved as soon as possible. Having internet connections should be a right not a privilege, is a statement that I agree with because now we all depend on the internet. According to the article, “Why is Rural Internet so Bad”, the reason why internet speeds are slow and spotty is because broadbands are very expensive to build and there are not enough customers in rural areas. Although this can be a good reason as to why rural areas have bad internet, that reason should not matter now due to the coronavirus.

    Right now many states, like Nevada, that is mentioned in the article are working towards getting rural areas access to better internet connections. With the Cares Act that was set up during the beginning of the pandemic many states have moved forward with this approach. In New Jersey, there was a bill that was approved by the state senate to bring better internet activity to rural areas within the state. They want to start working with public works to get this up and running in counties such as Sussex and Warren, mentioned in the article High Speed Internet Bill for Rural Areas Still Alive. As the year comes to a close, there is hope for improving our daily lives and solving problems that were once before not a priority.
    Sources:
    https://blinqnetworks.com/wireless-matters/why-is-rural-internet-so-bad/
    https://www.njherald.com/story/news/2020/07/09/high-speed-internet-bill-for-rural-areas-still-alive/42257973/

  6. With all of my schoolwork and classes being online, I tend to take for granted the convenience of having access to everything on my phone or laptop. I never thought about how this transition as a result of the pandemic may impact people who are not as privileged as I am. This article really opens my eyes to the troubles that people can have when being forced to move everything online. In one case in a rural area, the principal cited that “all 105 of her students qualify for free or reduced lunch. Most live on the Fort McDermitt Reservation and about 75% have no Internet access at home.” As a result of the lack of communication via the internet and cell phones, many rural schools had to deliver paper copies to students. Just hearing all of these numbers is crazy to me with how I grew up. My graduating high school class had over 500 students, while this entire school had just over 100 people, most of whom had no internet access at their homes. It is crazy to me that in today’s technological day and age that there are still areas in our country with a majority of people disconnected from the internet. This just shows the differences in our country. While some areas consist of largely hoes without any internet access, the area that I am growing up with sees that as unheard of. This article also showed me the lengths at which schools will go to to provide proper education to their students. After having to hand deliver papers to students in the Spring 2020 semester, the time to plan over the summer allowed Nevada schools to set up their students with sell phone hot-spots as well as tablets to connect and learn virtually. Even with these improvements, rural leaders have been looking for better long-term solutions. These leaders have been lobbying congress to provide “a big public works project to build out broadband.” With this project, as a result of the pandemic, it would seem as though rural areas are going to become even rarer throughout our country.

  7. Many kids lack of sufficient internet connection is just one of the many obstacles thanks to the shutdown caused by the Coronavirus pandemic. With many children learning from home either because their schools have shut down classrooms or because they chose to learn remotely for safety reasons, the lack of internet connection for families in rural towns is something that makes remote learning far more difficult. I can personally relate to this struggle, as I live in a very rural area in Western Massachusetts where various surrounding towns have spotty at best internet connection. I grew with many friends who struggled to adapt to the evolving technological aspect that came with school because they struggled to hold a strong connection at home. Getting strong enough internet for people in these areas is of even higher difficulty because local locations with public internet such as libraries or coffee shops are either closed due to the pandemic or simply never accessible to these people anyway. This article touched on one of the major issues that I believe not enough people are talking about in this digital world we live in, which is how to provide sufficient online resources and activities to students from all different places.

  8. The COVID-19 pandemic has opened up many discussions about what we as a society needs to change. Many vulnerabilities in infrastructure, communication, and various other services have been exposed to be more than open, and as such some good may come of this in that these problems may get fixed. However, this article about the vast internet “dead zones” that some students must contend with if they wish to continue a socially distant education is something that I felt more than sympathetic towards. There is many a time that even I feel the effects that a poor connection has on my understanding of a class. And on the more extreme side, my mother is a librarian in two different schools. Recently, she has had to accept more duties as a result of the pandemic, such as a STEM teacher and Chromebook assistant. The districts that she works in are notable for the amount of students living in low income families, and the ways that this may cause some complications for doing well in classes. But the worst stories that she tells are about students who have no way to do work from home, as their internet is either horrible or even non existent. While this may differ from students attempting to work while residing on ranches, the simple fact of the matter is the COVID-19 pandemic has had a massive dividing effect on the students who have and the students who have not, largely in no fault of their own. What should a teacher do to a student who could not attend class, not because they wished to, but because of a service failing them during a critical period in time? To answer this, I decided to ask my mother how she has dealt with this alarming trend in her own classes. She recalls that, in the early days of the pandemic, she would just assign work with a sliding due date, in the event of students not being able to access it entirely. In this way, the students most unable to submit due to any problem whatsoever were given the ability to ease themselves into a trying situation. Now, with her classes being mostly in person, she still has a modified version of this rule in place, where the students are still able to make accommodations based on their situations. Given that most of the kids she teaches are below the fifth grade, this has made her usually easily upset students more focused and well behaved in the long run. I see this as the premium way to solve the issue of poor/non-existent connections, as this pandemic is not giving any mercy to anyone.

  9. Remote learning has been a very difficult change that the entire country has been forced to adapt to. Having come from a very urban area, the main discussion amongst super intendants and school officials was focused on how intercity kids were at a disadvantage. Similarly, social media seemed to lobby primarily for those kids in disadvantaged homes, and troubled school districts. As a result of this, I had never even considered the troubles extremely rural areas faced when it comes to online schooling. However, thinking about all the times I’ve been out west and how difficult it was to even get cell service, I cannot believe it never crossed my mind.

    The Borens are one of numerous families who had to goto extreme measures to ensure their kids were still receiving an education during the pandemic. For the average, middle class family living in what is essentially the middle of nowhere, the odds of having high functioning, high speed Internet is very unlikely. The Boren family relies on their satellite, similar to most, if not all people, in a similar geographical situation. If you figure the average family has 3-4 people who all need the Internet for work or school, it’s clear how overwhelming the demand would be for the satellite. However, working a paying job and receiving an education are expected by employers and educators alike, forcing families to restructure their lives. The Boren family for example had to take turns using the internet which caused them to do school work on the weekends.

    Unfortunately, compared to other kids, the Boren’s don’t even have the worst situation. Dr. Leslie Molina stated all 105 of her students qualify for free or reduced lunch. Most of which live on a reservation and don’t even have internet connection, making school work basically impossible. Students, especially young children can’t learn from a packet of papers, it’s just not realistic. This pandemic really put into perspective just how glaring the rural-urban divide is.

    Unfortunately, the divide doesn’t stop here. As I mentioned at the beginning, the focus where I am from is largely based on the disadvantages within the inner-city school systems. Similarly, these students are faced with financial disadvantages, as well as an absence of someone to make sure students actually do their work, etc. All in all this pandemic has exposed just how large the gap is in the educational system as well as just how privileged I am to be in my current situation.

  10. I have had two Wi-Fi issues already this semester. Both times I was able to find a solution quickly that did not greatly impact my studies. It is concerning to me, however, that there may be a time that my internet will cut out while I am taking a test or a timed assignment, which could be detrimental to my grade. I live in an urban area, so any Wi-fi issues I experienced have nothing to do with spotty internet. The issues were purely coincidental, so I do not have to worry about it on a daily basis. It would be extremely stressful to do online school with bad internet connection. I am happily taking online classes now because I have the capability to do so, but I would be rushing to go back to school if I did not have the right kind of internet.

    The article says that the pandemic will hopefully make people realize that “fast internet should be a right, not a privilege.” The new normal will include an increased amount virtual events, like school. Every person should have the right to have internet because it is necessary to have access to proper education. The options for students in rural areas now are to self-teach or risk their health with in-person learning. Both of these options are unfair to students, who are in turn receiving a worse education than students in urban areas.

    To adapt to the new way of life, internet access must become more accessible in all areas. This is parallel to the normalization of electricity during the Great Depression. It is a development to the country that will become normalized. This development would most likely happen either way, but the pandemic is speeding up the process. The way society functions is changing, and rural areas need to also to keep up with the development and reliance of the internet.

  11. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought numerous issues to U.S. education system. “She says all 105 of her students qualify for free or reduced lunch. Most live on the Fort McDermitt Reservation and about 75% have no Internet access at home” (https://www.kqed.org/mindshift/56719/in-internet-dead-zones-rural-schools-struggle-with-distanced-learning). I think the fact that three-quarters of students don’t have any Internet access at all is troubling. Students who are economically disadvantaged may not have even a reliable laptop or computer to do their schoolwork on. I understand the need to keep students safe, but the push to virtual learning puts some students at a disadvantage. In addition, the article makes a mention of students who rely on the school system to provide meals. In the New York City school system, a considerate amount of students depend on school to provide meals, “In 2016/17, 52.9 percent of New York State’s public school students in grades K-12 received free or reduced-price school lunch” (https://www.nyskwic.org/get_data/indicator_narrative_details.cfm?numIndicatorID=31#:~:text=Findings%3A,percent%20in%20Rest%20of%20State.). This goes to show that Internet isn’t the only the scarce resource in virtual learning, but school provided meals are vital as well.
    This issue of stable Internet should be addressed by Congress and other legislative bodies, as mentioned in the article. Virtual learning also isn’t as engaging as in-person instruction. In the Miami-Dade school district, cyber-attacks became an issue in the beginning of the new school year, “Last week, school officials announced a 16-year-old student had been arrested and charged in connection with several of the attacks. The student, officials said, admitted to orchestrating eight attacks” (https://www.cnn.com/2020/09/09/us/us-schools-distance-learning-problems/index.html). The issue of ‘Zoom hacking’ is yet another problem that plagues the virtual learning environment. Virtual learning is something that can be utilized in the short term while the COVID-19 pandemic poses a health risk, but I believe every effort should be made to get students back into the classroom.

  12. COVID-19 restrictions caused in-person education to come to a halt, causing big strains on families living in remote areas. Families living in rural areas where satellite internet on a good day is spotty, are not able to participate in zoom or google classroom experiences. Adding to this, the strain is even larger when there are multiple children in the same home attempting to access the internet to complete assignments. Using the internet in these rural areas are inefficient and ineffective and result in alternating schedules that do not coincide with a typical school day. Moreover, this has caused working on assignments on Saturdays and Sundays a new norm. Instead of the expected family down time, internet restrictions have led to more stress, less quality time, and a seven-day school week. COVID-19 has highlighted the vast divide between rural and urban education, and the downside of virtual education. It was common in rural areas during the lockdown to see paper copies being delivered to families and students who did not have access to the internet. Significantly, it is usually the lower income families that live in these rural areas. When tablets with cellular hotspots are provided to students in rural areas, education was still weeks behind due to troubleshooting and technological difficulties. These unforeseen circumstances may have a silver lining if congress is able to bring broadband internet to these rural areas just as they have brought electricity during The Great Depression. Lobbying Congress in the past had failed, so the pandemic might encourage them to get the needed broadband that these rural communities desperately need. The pandemic should make people realize that “fast internet should be a right not a privilege.” Since technology is the future, and more and more companies and schools are going virtual, stable internet should be mandatory in every home, similar to electricity and water. The CARES Act funds in Idaho are building out rural broadband connections. However, fiber internet would not reach rural areas by the yearend deadline, causing more of the same issues to arise. This issue can be an economic advantage by creating jobs of constructing fiber internet in rural areas, while providing the children with the internet connection they need to succeed.

  13. The struggle with online learning and internet connection has became a serious problem in places across America. Whether the classrooms are in the Midwest or in urban cities on the East Coast, the classroom as we know it is no longer. This is effecting students ability to flourish in their education in many ways. We have lost the touch and feel of a desk which kept students focused. While this issue of connection affects all students, no demographic has been more affected than the socioeconomically disenfranchised. Students coming from poor areas will tend to have less access to new technology and as a result, the students will suffer. My father recently went back to school after a long hiatus from the music industry to get his masters and is now an elementary school teacher in West Orange. While some of West Orange is nice and may have quite a few prominent residents, many of the students do not have access to the same technology as their peers. As a result the less advantaged students cannot have the same ability to learn. Some schools have acquired funding to aid this problem, however it is not as easy for schools in very poor districts. Hopefully this issue is short term and the world can return to a state of normalcy however in the meantime, there has to be a solution where students can be able to have the same ability to learn.

  14. The internet is arguably the most useful innovation in society in modern times. Providing great help for a large number of people, some are still not at the same point as others and are left with errors and concerns in more modern times. On-campus we are given the benefit of high-speed internet with minimal errors and cuts. If an error does happen and the internet slows down or begins to cut in and out the problem is usually resolved in proper time. That is not the same privilege gifted to people all over the United States and in more secluded areas. As the article talks about children who live in more rural areas have been affected by the COVID outbreak and change in schooling. Internet prominence is not as large in rural areas and slow internet is more common especially with families living on less money. If families are already lacking funds to supply for the household necessities how can they expect that money to go towards upgraded wifi? Should the child have to feel repercussions from his family’s lack of money, the lack of internet support in the area, and the effect COVID took on the schooling system? No, and we need to find a way to grant all the children experiencing more harsh situations in the time a fair and reasonable chance to have the same opportunity. Schools may not be able to fund higher internet for families that cannot afford it themselves but a safer way to provide children access to school facilities even if hours must be extended would be reasonable. The virus has helped to exploit areas as a society we were overlooking and lacking in. Having equally spread the internet and granting all children access to the best education was one of those spots that we needed to expand upon and I hope this helps to expedite the process. As a child, my family was not always able to have internet provided and besides some extra time in the computer lab at school, there was truly no way I could fix the issue. I feel for the kids stuck in situations like this all over the country and hope a solution is found.

  15. This article makes some great points about some of the inequalities that have been exposed as a result of COVID-19. During the pandemic, online learning has become mandatory for many students whose families are equipped to handle it. As the article mentioned, many families who live in rural areas may not have access to the internet. This can make it nearly impossible for students to participate in online schooling. One reason for this is that if those students don’t have someone in their family who already understands the topics the students are learning, then the students have to learn the class material almost entirely on their own. While that might not seem like a huge deal to those of us who use Google pretty much 24/7, for children and for those without internet access this can be very difficult. Not to mention that for younger students who may be required to complete online learning in elementary school, learning the material on your own can be nearly impossible.

    While a lack of internet in rural areas is certainly a great example of an education-related inequality exposed by COVID-19, there are other similar inequalities that have also been exposed by the pandemic. One example is that some poorer school districts cannot afford to provide their students and faculty with the necessary resources to teach remotely. Not all students have devices that can access the internet for school. Another example is that not all parents are able to stay home with their children during the day. Some parents have jobs that require them to be out of the house for most of the day, so their children may be left on their own, with a babysitter, or with a family member. As a result of many parents struggling to find someone to watch their children during normal school hours, many children are left without anyone to help them do their work.

    Although online schooling certainly has its challenges, there are a few potential solutions to some of these problems. The main solution is to find a safe way for kids to go back to school. While the number one priority is the safety of children and their families, there are some measures that could be put into place to help keep in-person learning safe. For instance, one potential solution could be to send only the students without the resources to learn virtually to in-person school. This could involve teachers live streaming in-person class to students at home or recording lectures during in-person classes and posting them online for students who are able to access them virtually. Another possibility would be to implement a hybrid form of teaching in which students do some learning in school and some at home. This could help schools maintain social distancing while also allowing them to offer a relatively comprehensive education to their students. Lastly, a potential solution might be to figure out a way to even out the resources. For example, the article mentioned increasing internet access to students in rural areas. However, this solution could be pretty time consuming and costly. Overall, there are many things that can be done to improve online learning during the pandemic in order to prevent the growth of the education gap that exists between students.

  16. The part that caught my attention the most about his article is when they stated, “This pandemic has shone a glaring light on a lot of inequalities. The federal government estimates that more than a third of rural America has little or no Internet. In numerous recent interviews, educators have told NPR they’re concerned the rural-urban divide will only worsen if kids can’t get online to learn”(KQED). I found this to be profoundly true because most people know that more urban areas are accustom to having better education, given that their internet is usually high speed. For instance, You could have 100s of people in one building and everyone’s internet would be working fine. In a rural environment, a normal family household would struggle to spread the internet apart. That goes to show that rural students are in a big misfortune during this pandemic in their transition from in person learning to online. I also agree that if this divide tends to go on any longer then rural students, in compare to the urban students, would be very behind. This is because rural students will have to keep dealing with some type of internet connection issue, and that would get in their time for learning or studies.
    Another part of the article that caught my attention they said, “I don’t know why anybody would rationally think ‘we can just hand you a packet, and here you’re going to go teach yourself,’ that’s basically what was going on,” says Dr. Leslie Molina, principal at McDermitt Combined Schools in northern Nevada.”(KQED). I completely agree with this point. The reason is because I wouldn’t make much sense to just send papers to students house. Most students will get unorganized by huge work load and have a hard time adjusting to their new learning routine.

  17. In attempts to prevent the further spreading of COVID-19, schools have to decide to take a virtual approach to teaching. It is rather obvious that most people wish to revert back to in-person schooling, resembling some sense of normalcy and giving students the opportunity to experience the social and educational aspects of reality. The thing is, however, with the ongoing pandemic, this is the new normal. And if it is not now, it will be in the upcoming years. We have seen the challenges of this transition, from spotty internet to difficulty paying attention and actually soaking up the information that is taught.

    Transitions, however, and change in general usually comes with challenges. It is not abnormal for us to reject or despise change, but with time, we learn to adjust, and I believe we have no trouble eventually doing so in this instance. Rural communities worry that their students will fall behind their urban counterparts due to the difference in internet quality and accessibility. In time, I believe this will not be a major issue. Connection to the internet is already incredibly valued by people across the country, and it will only increase in value when something as important as education depends on it. Its status will change, if it has not already, from a luxury to a commodity, reaching similar demand to water or shelter. Either local or federal government will focus their attention to this need and will ensure that areas in need of support will get it. The CARES Act has already showed federal intent to address this issue, and as the pandemic’s duration continues to grow, so to will our country’s focus on education.

    Furthermore, I do not believe online teaching will be a problem for students or teachers in terms of actual learning. There is no disputing that in person teaching is superior to online teaching. The social aspects of physically being in school as well as idea of learning through experiences are key to the development of children as they grow older. This, however, does not mean online teaching is the wrong course of action. Re-opening schools and allowing students to meet in one common place will be detrimental to our efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Students and teachers must and will adapt to the new technique of teaching and learning. Lest we forget, these students are children of the 21st century. They have grown with the technology we take for granted today, and most already are familiar with the virtual world. If any generation could handle this pandemic and online schooling, it is this one. And if students are able to learn in the own homes, where distractions are in abundance, then they should thrive if or when we ever revert back to in-person. As the article says, challenges bring about good, as they are met with solutions that at the end of the day benefit us as people. COVID-19 is one of the largest challenges we have collectively faced in a while, and I have no doubt that we will find a way to preserve.

  18. This is an extremely hard topic to discuss as it is from a different perspective than mine. It makes me feel a little weird that even nowadays some people do not have internet access because of their physical location. I do not know what the school board can really do because they most likely know that most of the participants are in rural areas with little to no internet service, but they can’t force students to go to school with the current pandemic. It is a real recipe for disaster. “I don’t know why anybody would rationally think ‘we can just hand you a packet, and here you’re going to go teach yourself,’ that’s basically what was going on,” says Dr. Leslie Molina, principal at McDermitt Combined Schools in northern Nevada. Jojo Myers Campos, Nevada’s broadband development manager, says she hopes the pandemic makes people realize that fast Internet should be a right, not a privilege. I personally agree with her stance. Nowadays with all the technological advances, the use of social media, the use of the internet, etc. play a major role in society, and it is very hard to succeed without having any access to the internet. Another quote that was said by Mandi Borens, a mother of 4 children who have limited internet service, that is very true is when she talks about teachers, “It makes you appreciate your teachers a whole lot more,” Boren says. “I always appreciated them, but just [for me] to have to do four grades as one person, that’s tough.” I think she is absolutely spot on, as teachers are not getting the credit and pay that they deserve especially with the pandemic going on. Teachers are risking their lives on low pay to try and make students the best they can be which is ultimately shaping society. Teachers should be getting paid more for the amount of effort and the impact their job has on society.

  19. I think this article needs to be publicized in a greater spotlight so a lot more people can be shown the problems that about a third of the country is having right now. There are so many issues that have been brought up within the last eight months because of COVID, that I did not even realize how big of a problem this may be. The part I found to be most interesting was the line “The pandemic has shone a glaring light on a lot of inequalities,” because not only with education systems have we seen inequalities but with other aspects of life such as housing and healthcare as well. I knew living in rural America had to be a lot more difficult than living in cities (having to drive 80 miles for a Walmart, for example) but I did not realize that a third of our country does not have reliable internet access. It blows my mind that in 2020 this is the reality. I definitely agree with the principal mentioned, Dr. Leslie Molina, that many children are going to fall behind for problems they have no control over.

    I have multiple family members who are teachers, and they all agree that the current system in place does not benefit them either. For example, one of them has two young children and has to help them with their online schooling. For the people living in rural areas, I do not see how something like this can be done. I do not understand why schools expect parents to help their children with online schooling if there is no way to access a server. In my opinion, the original way of handing out packets would be best, along with posting lesson videos online, this way the children can learn at their own pace.

  20. When the lockdown started and classes were forced to be moved online, it was an inconvenience to me. I have a nearly perfect internet connection and I am located less than an hour from one of the biggest cities in the world. Even with all of this, I still sometimes faced internet problems trying to log on to classes or complete my work. I was constantly wondering what was happening to people who did not have access to the internet or have any type of electronics to even be able to join classes. I heard numerous stories from teachers saying that they have not heard from multiple students since lockdown began. I have also seen families crowded around closed schools or crammed in places like Starbucks for hours at times just so their kids would have internet access so they would be able to complete their homework. I even saw videos of students who were so embarrassed by the looks of their house they would set up sheets hanging from the ceiling and set their chairs in a way that blocked the cameras from facing into their house. Although more of a joke, I have seen parents of children walk into the camera naked because there is no room for a child to be staying home this long. For all of these people, it is unfair that they are being forced to deal with these situations with little to no help.
    It was good to learn that there actually have been efforts to help these people. Although not optimal, children without internet access have been provided with paper copies of the work. Specifically in Nevada, they were pushing to get all students equipped with tablets and internet access. This would be much easier than the thick packets that the students were forced to teach themselves. Additionally, I never realized how important the opening of schools was to these families. To me, it was unnecessary and dangerous, but to families without internet it was life-changing. Although I still think it was too dangerous to open schools when they did, I have not seen any life-threatening cases of COVID which is a very good sign. For these families, I hope schools continue to be open so life can return back to a bit of normalcy for them. For everyone, I hope the option to stay remote remains.

  21. The COVID-19 Pandemic threw peoples’ lives into a maelstrom of chaos and uncertainty; society is coping by harnessing technology for its communication-enabling abilities. However, there are still a plethora of areas within the United States that have little or no access to the internet. It was assumed that rural families would be able to continue their occupational duties and academic duties via the use of the internet, but since the internet connection of more rural families is extremely irregular on a good day, they do not have equivalent ability as others in more urban areas to continue to perform their duties sufficiently.

    Giving internet access to rural areas is progress in finding a way to sustain the continuation of society during our struggle with the COVID-19 virus. Rural families need to be given the opportunity to adapt to the reactionary changes that occurred as a result of this pandemic. It is imperative that the government finds a way to help these families adapt. In the future, there may not exist a community that does not potentially have access to stable and speedy internet.

  22. People that are making important decisions in the United States usually live in big cities and have never lived in rural towns. When making important decisions, these people completely forget that there are other people in the United States who live in rural towns. They forget that people living in rural towns do not have the same resources or opportunities that people living in big cities have. This especially applies to education. The education systems in big cities have a lot more funding and are much more advanced then education systems in rural towns. The decision to shut down schools in the United States was made when the spread of Covid19 kept increasing at a rapid rate. The people making this decision were trying to protect the well-being of students and the rest of society. However, I don’t think that they realized how much this decision was going to negatively affect students, especially students living in rural towns. Like the article states, many rural towns do not have the best internet connections, making it almost impossible for many students to do online schooling. For instance, both of my parents are from a small town in Nebraska called Valentine. There are roughly 2,800 people that live there and it is about three hours to a major city. During quarantine, I stayed at my parents’ house there and it was very difficult for me to access my Zoom meetings and homework. I became very frustrated and unmotivated. Expecting students of all grade levels to try and stay focused when they are having internet problems is not feasible. Many students just give up.
    In addition, the article also states that many students in rural towns do not have the technology to be able to do online school. Giving students paper copies of what they are supposed to be learning is pointless because they are not going to teach themselves. Students in rural towns are going to fall more behind from school shutdowns then the students living in big cities. People making the decisions need to realize how these shutdowns are negatively affecting these kids. The kids are not only falling behind, but they are having mental health problems as well. Many kids living in rural towns looks forward to going to school every day because there is not much more they can do. Now that is taken away from them. In my opinion, I think that rural schools should be allowed to stay open because there is a smaller population that is concentrated in one place. This means the spread of Covid19 can be monitored very closely by the schools and towns. Therefore, the kids can still get the education and human interaction they need while being careful.
    Teresa Richardson
    richardsote@rider.edu

  23. When it comes to COVID, remote learning is the new normal. I saw a tweet that said, “Many wonder why COVID is still around but that’s because we chose to adapt to COVID rather than to beat it”. Instead of finding ways to stay normal and continue to live our normal lives, all circumstances were changed, and everyone had to adapt to the new “normal”. A big change that many people were not ready for is school from home, and even work from home in some cases. Something that plays a big role in everything going remote is internet connection, and your Wi-Fi.
    Personally, I know that a lot of my friends have internet connection that is not very good. For them, joining online classes and doing everything remotely could be unfair if they lose connection during the meeting or their service is lagging, and they can not hear what is being taught to them. In some of my classes I have experienced people that are in the middle of speaking then all of a sudden they freeze and disappear off of the screen because their connection was weak. Another thing that comes into play is the area that you live in. In rural areas and areas in the middle of nowhere, people tend to have little to no connection and that is something that is beyond their control. Luckily, I am not one of those people and in New Jersey even if you do not have good internet connection in your home you can go to the library, dunkin donuts, or almost anywhere that will provide you with high speed internet connection.
    As the article mentions, many schools have taken internet connection into consideration when it came to staying remote or reopening for kids to go to school. I feel that people without strong internet connection are at a complete disadvantage if they do not have a choice to go back to school because they are not able to learn at their highest potential because of something that is out of their control. Although everyone must take precautions with COVID, I feel that having strong or weak internet connection, students should have the option if they want to continue to learn remotely or return back to school. Some people actually prefer to learn remotely so that they are comfortable in their own home, but with that being said that goes for the people that are under good circumstances with no technical difficulties. When it is safe for students to return to the classroom, everyone should be notified and be given the choice if they want to return and continue learning normally so that their education and performance in school is not effected.

  24. I feel that you cant get away from the word Coronavirus during this time. This article goes into a deep issue that is happening with our education system during this time. I think that life gets overlooked when we are dealing with this pandemic because we are all afraid of the disease that is life-threatening. While this is the most important aspect of the pandemic, I think that it is important to highlight other issues that are going on as well. I think that this article hits the nail on the head when it discussed the lack of internet in the midwest for virtual learning. It is hard for students who don’t have access to the internet or computers. I feel that this is skipped over in our thinking because it is assumed that everyone has a computer and internet access in 2020. This issue made me think about children who are also living in poverty. This makes life very difficult because they get a lot of their care from being in a school setting. With children being home in low-income houses, sometimes they don’t receive the care that they need, for example, lunch. While they are at school in person this is taken care of for them by the school. Personally, my mom works as a school teacher in a low-income area, and I have heard personal stories on how it is very difficult for these children to live a “normal” life. I think it is just very difficult for many families during this time in many aspects, and this aspect affects some families more than others.

  25. The adjustment to doing school virtually has been a challenge for everyone. As a few months have passed, I would say everyone is starting to adapt to this new way of learning pretty well. That said, there are still a lot of obstacles to overcome. I am lucky enough to live in an area where I have good Wi-Fi and connection, allowing me to continue my education. I cannot imagine how families in rural areas like the Boren’s from Idaho in the article have their kids learn efficiently without a stable connection. Without Wi-Fi or a connection, I would not have been able to be successful in my studies. This disadvantage those of rural areas face puts many children at risk for falling behind. The pandemic put many vulnerable families in a hard position when it came to schooling their kids. A lot of these kids were given work and expected to learn it, which is pretty difficult to do without the help of a parent. This created a new challenge for parents especially those with multiple children of different ages or parents who had to work remote themselves while also trying to help their children with school. Not to mention, it put a massive burden on low-income families who relied on reduced price lunches to feed their children. I know even from discussing with my neighbors they faced many challenges with schooling their elementary aged children. Although we are lucky enough to have access to a strong internet connection, there are a lot of other factors with online learning parents have been challenged with these last few months. My neighbors had to juggle working their own jobs remotely, while also trying to help teach their four children all of whom were in different grade levels. These kids are at an important age of learning basic concepts they will need throughout their lives such as reading, writing, basic math and even social skills. These very important topics are in jeopardy due to the challenging online learning environment. If online learning for children in cities are faced with this many challenges and falling behind, I cannot even begin to imagine the hit students and families of rural areas are taking. This unfortunately, creates a very large divide between these students that will likely continue throughout their schooling and lives.

  26. The lifestyle in our world today has taken a huge shift in how all of us do tasks in our everyday routine. Parents would now just wake up, feed their kids, then proceed with their work day on their own computers. When schools started to make zoom the main app in order to teach their students, the problem with this is that a lot of students live in different areas and their internet providers might not be that reliable. In this article, the family has a very weak internet which means that they might not be able to have their kids attend the online classes. Online classes have shown that it is not a perfect way to learn material in this pandemic. A lot of the time, when the connection is weak among other teachers and students, a lot of the audio cuts out and you can miss valuable information to write down. Along with having a weak internet connection, tests are now taken online and some of the tests/quizzes are timed for the students, if there was any case that the students internet went out, all of their progress will not be saved and possibly can fail the test since they did not finish in the time that was given to them. A possible solution to these problems is to give internet dead zone areas a better internet connection since the internet is now more important than ever for students with their schools, and adults with their work. Some students in a class might live in areas that are more well off then others meanwhile the other student who might not live in an wealthy area might not be able to afford a stable connection for them to do distanced learning and can pose a challenge to get their work done in a timely manner. Hopefully, there will be a solution that can solve this problem in the long run while the pandemic is still going on in the world.

  27. This article is a perfect example of the structure of the United States. Our country is a collection of States who have the power to create and enforce their own laws. our country was made this way for this exact reason, online school might be a great thing to protect cities against the spread of coronavirus but may not work for rural areas like Idaho. The article discussed how many kids have extreme problems with distance learning due to the rural atmosphere of Idaho. They are unable to access online information and have the resources that they need to be able to learn remotely. Remote learning also deprived this family of access to child care. By this, I mean the ability to have their kids watched and taken care of throughout the day so that they can do what they need to do, such as work or other tasks. Many parents outside of rural areas have struggled as well because they cannot find or afford adequate childcare. School gave many families the opportunity to go out and work while their kids were being educated. Now their kids are not being watched and many parents cannot afford somebody else to watch their kids.

    Taking into consideration the lethality of the Covid-19 virus, kids should be able to go back to the classroom if they and their families want to. The current infection fatality rate of this disease for individuals under the age of 19 is 0.00032% according to ACSH.org. That means that 99.99978% of children will live from this pandemic. Of course, even one death is too many but, at what point do we stop risking the education and wellbeing of our children. AS hard as it will be as a country and a society, we need to start learning how to live with this deadly virus. Covid-19 will not be going anywhere anytime soon. So instead of hiding from the virus, we need to find ways to get back to a normal life. A life where kids can go back to school and parents are allowed to go back to work. It is one thing if people do not want to, but we are not even giving people the chance to make this decision for themselves.

    The fear of Covid-19 must be overcome to ensure the health, safety, and wellbeing of people for the future. There is a way to live with such a virus, but the first step will be not to instill fear in each other. The more we make this virus a villain the more that it will keep people in their homes hiding from it. The constant talk of how horrible it is must stop. Yes, it is a horrible virus and yes, it has taken countless innocent lives, but we need to find a way to live with the virus still here. At this point, everyone knows the real risks that this virus presents. We know that it has much higher death rates for individuals with pre-existing conditions and the elderly. Therefore, efforts should be to protect those who are at risk and allow others to make the choice for themselves if they want to go back to in-person events. Online school might be beneficial to some, but for others, it will not be. Those people should have the opportunity to choose what will be best for themselves.

  28. Reading this article makes me extremely thankful for the privilege of having easy internet access. Although, I can relate with a few of the internet struggles the Boren family has been experiencing amid the outbreak of the current pandemic. While I do have access to the internet, anytime it rains or storms there is a 95% chance that my electricity is going to go out. It has happened about two to three times since virtual learning went into full effect. Meaning, I did not have access to WI-FI to do assignments or log into zoom. While it may sound like a small inconvenience to some, most college students or graduates know that two to three times of missed work or missing zoom sessions can dramatically affect your grade. Especially, when your professors still have high expectations of you, as they should. I definitely can relate to the Boren family in some aspects, but for the most part, it does make me extremely grateful that nine times out of ten, I still have access to my internet services. Everyone has different feelings about virtual learning, it’s either you love it or you hate it. However, I do believe that most of us can agree that virtual learning has some pros in that at times, it offers more flexibility for students. With that being said, many students started virtual classes with excitement knowing that we can still be in the comfort of our own homes and still receive an education. However, after reading this article I realized that not everyone has the same luxury of being able to receive an education at home. It’s either they have to risk going back to school amid the Coronavirus or stay at home and fall behind due to unstable internet services or lack of technology.

    According to the article “Research Shows Students Falling Months Behind During Virus Disruption,” some of the negative effects of virtual learning that I didn’t consider prior to reading this article are “High school dropout rates could increase,” and “younger children could miss out on foundational concepts in phonics and fractions that prepare them for a lifetime of learning and working” (Goldstein). Much like the Boren family, I think now more than ever, parents across the world have a greater appreciation for teachers than they did before. Due to the lack of internet access, “many rural districts amid the crisis had to resort to delivering paper copies of school work to students who didn’t have Internet or cell phone service at home” (Siegler). What this means is that many students are left to teach themselves. The more I think about the privilege I have, I think about the single mothers or fathers that are struggling to make ends meet, working full time jobs, and have children at home who still need to be taught. Everyone does not have the finances to just hire a tutor to help their child stay on top of their school work. The outbreak of Covid-19 has caused global effects and I couldn’t agree more with Myer’s Campos that “fast Internet should be a right, not a privilege.”

    Works cited:

    Goldstein, Dana. “Research Shows Students Falling Months Behind During Virus Disruptions.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 5 June 2020, http://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/05/us/coronavirus-education-lost-learning.html.

  29. School during the Covid-19 pandemic has been hard in some way on everyone. Seniors in either college or high school didn’t get to end their schooling the way that they wanted to. Kids aren’t getting to see their friends. College students are missing out on some of the best years of their life. Everyone is adjusting to learning at home and some are adjusting easier than others. People who live in very separated areas sometimes don’t have the greatest internet connection. If you don’t have a great internet connection then how do you even accomplish anything having to do with your education. The majority of people are doing whatever type of school that they go to online. If there is no internet connection then they can’t do anything. On top of not being able to do their work then they can’t contact the school or their teachers. Then if teachers see that the students aren’t doing their work they are just going to assume that they are being lazy, meanwhile those kids and parents are freaking out at home trying to get the internet to work. My mom’s best friend from when she was a kid is a teacher in New Jersey. The district that she teaches in doesn’t provide laptops for their students and some families are sharing just one device to do their jobs and school work on. There are many of those families around the country that struggle to do all of this online. They rely on going to school and work every day. I was fortunate enough to go to a high school and a college that provides computers to their students. Everyone has internet problems no matter what tech they have. There have been times where 10 minutes before class starts the internet goes out. I then begin to frantically text my friends to see if their wifi is working because if their wifi is working then I would need to ask them if I could go over their house to use their internet for my class. It’s insane how much we rely on the internet especially for school and work during this very crazy time that we live in.

  30. Across the country many families are struggling with virtual learning. The Boren Family is just one example. They may have access to the internet and devices however, their internet can get extremely slow as they live on a Cattle farm in Idaho. Mrs. Boren says the “internet is spotty on a good day. You can forget trying to use Zoom or Google classroom” (Siegler). As a result, they have had to split their internet usage all week long where the kids were doing homework on the weekends. This can be extremely stressful for some, as some students may have had to submit their assignments by a certain time. It’s one thing to have a slow internet but, it’s another to have no internet and no devices. The author writes “ the federal government estimates that more than a third of rural America has little or no internet” (Siegler).
    When the pandemic began schools had to switch to virtual learning. Many students were not able to get the same education they deserve because they did not have the resources. As a result, “ many rural districts amid the crisis had to resort to delivering paper copies of school work to students who didn’t have Internet or cell phone service at home” ( Siegler). This can cause many students to fall behind as they may not be able to teach themselves and given the education system, most parents do not understand common core. For instance, I was trying to help my neighbors son with math and I could not even do it. I had to teach him the way that I was taught. I could not imagine what some of the younger students are learning and what they are going through especially if their parents cannot help them because they do not know how to do it themselves.
    According to the author, Dr. Leslie Molina, principal at McDermitt Combined Schools in northern Nevada said that “all 105 of her students qualify for free or reduced lunch. Most live on the Fort McDermitt reservation and about 75% have no internet access at home” (Siegler). Fortunately, the CARES Act was able to help fund tablets and hotspots for students. They were trying to push this prior to the pandemic however, the CARES act sped things along. It’s unfortunate that Congress does not allocate additional funds for rural areas. I love the west, and the open outdoors but because of things like this, I do not think I could ever live out there unless things were to change. Students should not have to fall behind because of the lack of resources.

  31. Since the pandemic came around, everyone has been forced to participate in things from the comfort of their via zoom meetings or however else communication is done for work or school. It is assumed that everyone has a perfect internet connection, but that is not the case due to some of our population living in extremely rural areas. The teaching body in these areas resorted to delivering paper copies of school work to students who didn’t have internet, a stable connection, or no cell phone service at home. Those remote areas need attention too, when it comes to these things because all students deserve the equal opportunity of education and way it is taught so they can easily understand it. This can cause parents and guardians to become a little unsettled because of all of the troubleshooting of technology they must have incurred when distributing the technologies they obtained through the CARES Act. Though, problems will still arise because of the rural areas not having the connections the rest of the world have. Cell phone services are very spotty in that area, and only certain areas have a strong stable connections causing multiple families to be frustrated with all the shit that is going right now. Something like this is going to be hard to respond to, even some families responded by just homeschooling their children. The COVID-19 pandemic is changing everything, how we learn, adapt, as well as socialize. Getting the rural areas, like the one mentioned in the article, better connections will improve society’s happiness as well as help educate the young kids who are frustrated with school where they cannot give their one hundred percent.

  32. COVID 19 has derailed many people’s usual plans. In September, children are usually getting ready to go back to school with new supplies and new clothes. However, kids were getting ready to power up their laptops and technology devices to watch their teacher teach from their kitchen. This seems like a pretty simple idea for many kids, however, that is not the case. There are many places in the United States where the internet barely functions. As a New Jersey resident, I am quite lucky. According to Get Internet, New Jersey has the fastest internet with 52 megabits per second. The worst state is Montana with a measly 20.3 megabits per second. Furthermore, 99% of New Jersey has internet while only 69% of Montana has internet. The fact that the federal government estimates that 1/3 of rural America has little or no internet is very worrisome. The students in these areas will be very far behind the students who do have internet access. This inequality could be a huge detriment to these students and some, possibly, could have to repeat a grade level. Without internet, some students would have to teach themselves and that defeats the purpose of school. The article talks about how some schools had to hand deliver paper packets to students because they did not have internet to learn online. That is almost as inefficient as students teaching themselves. On top of this inefficiency, the process also costs money. Unfortunately, there is not much that could be done except sending the students back to school. However, there are consequences to sending the kids back to school. The school system would have to assess the situation as much as they could. Maybe send half the kids back at a time for half the week and then send them home with packets. Therefore, kids could still get the learning they need from their teachers. This is a really rough time for everyone and without internet, the time much harder. I really stand for the CARE Act that the article brings up because it is attempting to keep students learning as much as they can as well as trying to get students internet. Hopefully, these students can get back into actions in school or online as soon as possible so they do not fall too far behind there city counterparts.

    https://getinternet.com/which-states-have-best-worst-internet/

  33. Schooling is tough and expensive enough as it is, now there is the added challenge of making it work from home. There are so many households across America that are low-income and have to take advantage of the school lunches and now there are so many added costs to the school. There needs to be accessible to the internet which a large majority of households do not have access to the internet or the kind of internet that is required to use applications such as Zoom or Google Classroom. This puts a hold on educations which puts students behind and at a disadvantage. Coronavirus has taken the already challenging topic of school and made it near impossible to find the right solution. I had to laugh because of the way that Dr. Leslie Molina explained how rural her school was. She referenced how far she was from Walmart. 80 miles is a long journey, and this goes to show how rural the area really is. A strong internet connection seems unnecessary for households out there on a daily basis but now they are being told that their children’s educations depend on it. I saw a comment from Kevin Printon and I could not agree more. He mentioned how reading articles like this makes him appreciate what he has. I never thought that things were perfect, but I never looked at anyone else’s situation besides my own. I always felt like this was such a hassle for everything to be online, but I do not know what hassle is. A hassle is waking up and having to drive to a local store to use their free spotty Wi-Fi to take a class. I recently saw a commercial for T-Mobile that they were giving 10 million eligible households access to the internet and I find that to be such a blessing for so many people. More companies should do their part in helping the future of this country get an education. Not only that but all those impacted for work need access to the internet to keep their jobs to maintain a steady income to keep a roof over their heads and feed their families. It is also amazing what teachers are doing for their students. We truly do not deserve teachers because kids see them as the enemy because they assign homework and give tests, but the truth is that teachers are some of the most caring people out there. With schools being put in a tough spot, the teachers are now standing up and trying to work out a plan for their schools and their students. It is a great thing to see all these people come together and work towards helping the children that are not fortunate enough to have access to the internet, get what they need to continue their educations and careers.

  34. Due to COVID, every student is learning virtually. Thankfully our university made it possible for students to choose either in-person classes or virtual. Obviously, I chose virtual as I live an hour and a half away from school. This made me think about some parts of the country that do not have access to the same internet and technology as I am lucky to have. There are some obstacles that I and many others have faced with technical issues. Throughout a virtual lecture, the professor’s voice will be interrupted due to bad reception. This form of learning is very convenient for the situation the world is in right now, but I personally feel that the learning aspect is pretty difficult. This form of learning forces students to fully learn difficult concepts on their own. This has been a very difficult adjustment for many students to handle. While reading this article I found that many schools in rural areas do not have the same access as other towns or cities in other areas of the country. Students who do not have great internet access will struggle with learning new concepts. It is unbelievable that in 2020 some parts of the US do not have sufficient internet to have access to a proper education. Education should be the top priority for this country as this virus is here to stay and the virus is not something that will be gone any time soon. Due to not having proper access to the internet in some parts of the country, some students will not have the same opportunities and learning experiences as students who have technology at their fingertips. Ideally, this whole issue will be resolved and Zoom will fix some of their issues soon and provide the best learning experience for students across the country.

  35. As one that works with many students in an after school program in an urban area, this challenge has brought to light so many issues that people don’t realize so many students are dealing with. In a house with a similar amount of people in the house, at three people working from home and three people doing school from home, I only understand a fraction of what these students and teachers are struggling with. In light of the current pandemic, schools are doing all they can to keep their students safe but learning. However, the true responsibility falls onto the teachers and their comprehension of technology, limitations and communication with the students and parents. While many people take these resources for granted, there are about 19 million people lack the basic access to internet or sufficient service, according to the FCC. In rural areas, as specified in the article, 14.5 million people, one-fourth of the population, lack this service as well. In an age where technology encompasses so much of people’s lives, this disadvantage only digs deeper into the educational equality that America strives for. During this pandemic, if a student does not have access to these resources, they are quickly falling behind in their education which has the possibility of impacting the rest of their lives in terms of their career goals or aspirations. This will separate them substantially from their peers and may even change the course of their lives. Educators all over the world are working to do their best for their students, but this can only work if they have their administration as well as their government supporting them.

  36. Coronavirus has affected many people’s lives. Schools have been affected badly. From experience, I understand what the Boren’s family is going through. In March, when my college sent us home, and I had to start zoom university, the Internet at my house would mess up because six people were simultaneously using the Internet. It was so hard for me to participate in my zoom classes because my internet connection would mess up, and my teachers would not be able to hear me. I had to make sure I completed my work early because I didn’t want my assignments to be late due to the slow Internet. The Boren’s stated that they had to spread out their work throughout the week in order to get work done on their internet connection. I can relate to them because when I took my final exams, everyone had to make sure that they were not on the Internet. My teachers made it clear that they didn’t care if there was an internet problem, so I had to make sure no one was on the Internet to take my exam smoothly. I never thought about the effects the pandemic had on the Internet in rural areas. Something needs to be done for them to have better connection because they are so far from the main cities. Rural leaders are trying to get Congress to build out broadband in their towns. Hopefully, Congress does it because it’s not fair that certain rural towns cannot get reliable WiFi due to their location. Due to the pandemic, Congress should agree to put broadband in all rural towns because students are affected. Students are receiving packets of work, but their teachers cannot teach them because the internet connection is terrible. All over the United States, the Internet connection was awful in many households due to many people being on it, but most people could go to coffee shops or libraries to connect to the Internet. In rural places, they may not have the same opportunity due to everything being far apart. Hopefully, Congress agrees to build rural broadbands to have the proper connections, so students do not become behind in class because they cannot participate in their zoom classes because of the Internet.

  37. School learning has affected the way kids can get their education due to this virus. this virus is a very deadly virus, especially to old people. this virus has been delaying many opportunities to get closer to what you want to be in the future. for example, schools haven’t re-opened to the full extent and some kids that can’t really learn online are having trouble because of the way maybe some subjects are being taught. also many people don’t have internet access all over, so it can be very stressful and really can be the difference in kids getting a good grade. this pandemic has showed you that no matter what, you have to have hustle and always be ready for the unexpected. this is because nobody really knew that the virus would be this dangerous and have this much to put on hold. this was a shock and everyone has to adjust to this weird living form, until things are over. it can also have a play on your mental health and really you can experience stress or anxiety. however you do have choices that you can make in order to get what you need and also sustain a great eduction. for example, schools have the option like SHU to either have In person class, or take it online. so its really up to you, sometimes things are to happen and you just have to adjust to what is happening and make it right, because life will teach you that not everything will go your way. also I think that since education is one of the most if not the most, important thing is our education, they need to make the pre-cautions so that we can get smarter and show them our full ability to be the best student we can be.

  38. The coronavirus has made a lot of things difficult for many Americans and people across the globe. To add to all the economic despair and financial burdens caused by this virus, access to the internet and a steady wifi connection in my eyes is one of the most important hurdles many families in rural america continue to struggle with. The article talks about the lack of available internet access in some of the most remote places in our country and how it’s affecting our youth with their schooling. Now more than ever, the internet is a necessity and something we can’t overlook as being essential in every household. At McDermitt Combined Schools in Nevada, most of the kids attending school are extremely rural and only within 80 miles of the closest Walmart. The lack of a steady connection is backfiring, causing kids to just skip out on remote learning in general. For many of us, this struggle we couldn’t even think to imagine. A working internet is something we’ve all come to take advantage of, but a vast majority of low income counties in rural america just can’t seem to keep up.
    So what’s the solution? Many rural schooling districts have looked into personal hotspots for their students, but this of course is not the long term answer and quite honestly can’t be maintained. I have a friend from rural Pennsylvania and he struggles with this exact same issue. In order for him to get online and play video games with his friends, albeit not school work and not that essential, he has to connect to his hotspot and leave it in the same place of his house in order to get somewhat of a reasonable connection. This also means that the rest of his family has to be disconnected and can’t generate a lot of internet traffic or else he will lose connection. I share this example, because it shows what a lot of people have to deal with that aren’t as blessed as the rest of us. For kids that are either in high school or middle school, schooling is such a vital part of their everyday routine and lives. Without proper schooling or in this case a smooth internet for online schooling, it could start to lead these kids down a rocky unmotivated road. I believe teachers should consider giving certain kids that qualify a flexible due date to allow for some of the unannounced internet interruptions that they may be experiencing. This would keep kids engaged and allow them to stay on top of their work and not get behind, so they don’t become even less proactive and unproductive with their education.

  39. I went to a high school in Texas. We were a grade F high school. Over 34% of the population of Huntsville, Texas lives in poverty. Over 75% of students within the district were also on the free or reduced lunch program. I finished high school before the pandemic hit, but at the time, our school issued out Chromebooks to every student. In the event that a student did not have wifi at their house, a student could rent a hotspot if they needed it for a week or so. Our high school also opened 2 hours early and closed 3-4 hours late for students to complete work if they needed it. My high school was still in a town with many stores and restaurants where a student could go if they did need to get wifi. I could not imagine how diminished our district would have been if we were located in an internet dead zone.
    I think it would be ideal if every person located in a rural area could have access to the internet if needed, but it is simply harder than that. With the times going on now, most of my classes are online, and I simply would not be able to do any of my work if I did not have internet. Some days my internet crashes and I cannot attend my zoom classes which already puts me behind. Everyone has the right to a free education, but many people do not think about those who do not have the same resources that make learning more convenient. Now that times are changing in the world of education, we are seeing those who do not have the same accesses most do, and it is becoming more apparent that something needs to be done.

    • Hi Amanda, thank you so much for sharing your story. I think that the efforts of your school to help students get signal where needed are incredibly admirabal! Renting out hotspots to students is a great solve for this issue and I hope that other schools have followed suit as remote learning is a new reality for so many.

  40. This article is near to my heart because it’s something that my own family struggled with earlier this year. As schools closed and classes went remote families found out that online school might not work for them, not for lack of want, but because their internet was not able to deliver the speeds necessary to participate in things like Zoom calls and Google Classroom. My younger sister initially had no issue with this as we lived in a developed area and paid extra for high speed internet. However, earlier this year we moved to what is basically the middle of nowhere. It wasn’t until my father was researching the different internet providers in the area that he realized we only had one option and the speeds were a small fraction of what we experienced in our last home.

    At this point we only hoped that we would be back to in person school and work and that the slower speeds would only affect things like the quality of our favorite Netflix shows, but the pandemic had other plans. As cases continued to rise it became clear that my sister would be learning from home. The slower speeds meant that, like the family in the article, she was not always able to get on her class calls and had to spread her workload out over the week.

    Working and educating remotely are a new reality for many families and we can only do our best to get through it. There are other concerns with this as well, for example many students receive free lunch at school on a need basis, these meals are more difficult (sometimes impossible) to provide when students are spread across their towns.

    It is my hope that educators are understanding of students with internet issues and that they do not allow a factor outside of their control to affect their grades.

  41. This article covered a topic that I was very curious about when some schools had shifted to all online. My grandparents live in a rural area and most of the residents of the area are elderly, but there are still some kids; They don’t have Wi-Fi in their homes, most food delivery services do not go back there, and everything is a semi-far drive away. Another obstacle to that would also be that if you do want Wi-Fi, it is usually through a hot spot and very expensive. The example from Mandi Boren is very important because I think it exemplifies how we all thought about this pandemic at first, more family time, homeschooling, and extra help with the chores. Fortunately, at my own home, I was the only one on my Wi-Fi connection in the house. Mandi Boren explains how difficult it is when they had 5 people trying to use the same internet connection and how it required them to spread the school out over the week which had them even doing schoolwork on the weekends. The rural-urban divide is something that people must keep in mind, but it is to preserve an individual’s health. I think that there should be a federal system in place that gives students either a hot spot or a computer with Wi-Fi to try and help eliminate this problem. Wow, one of the statistics that I think was the most shocking was when Dr. Leslie Molina was talking about a school district that was 80 miles from a Wal-Mark and with all 1105 students receiving free or reduced lunch and that 75% of the students do not have internet at home. It is just unfortunate because online school is so ineffective for their students and staff but with an airborne disease going around it is difficult to meet in a confined place like a school and outdoor school is not plausible. Last semester when the pandemic started, and we were shifted to online it was a surprise so there were a lot of things that were not adaptable. This time around, there was time to plan so I am glad that the idea that I mentioned earlier about a tablet/computer with Wi-Fi built-in is something that is an actual possibility for these students. I hope that they can continue to find ways to help these kids so everyone can have a fair opportunity.

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