As many of our nation’s schools have transitioned to virtual learning, a lack of sufficient access to WiFi has widened the digital divide for millions of American students. Every student deserves an equal opportunity to succeed, and an inability to be in a classroom should not limit children’s access to learning. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 14% of schoolchildren don’t have access to the internet at home and 9 million children face difficulty completing online assignments.
In an effort to bring internet access to their students, school districts across the country are deploying buses equipped with WiFi hotspots to communities in need. Governor Kemp in Georgia and the Montgomery, Alabama public school system have made important strides towards busing WiFi to their students and teachers.
Governor Brian Kemp last month announced that 36 schools in Georgia would receive funding for extended WiFi that include grants and antennas so that parents can drive up to the schools and acquire sufficient access. Georgia has also taken similar steps in various neighborhoods so that students and teachers have access to the internet while at home. This is especially important for students living in rural Georgia, where internet access is most limited.
“Because we understand there’s a digital divide,” said Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed. “And the coronavirus pandemic that we’re into right now has only heightened the chasm that exists between those who can access high-speed internet service and those who can’t.”
Taking these steps to make virtual learning accessible is imperative to students’ success in the virtual classroom. Even as schools transition to summer break, no one knows what the fall may bring and schools need to be prepared for online learning. Internet access programs like these are crucial to those students learning from home without sufficient access to WiFi.