HUNTSVILLE, Ala. —
Virtual learning seems to be the way of the future. Well, at least for the first nine weeks in Madison County school disricts, as local schools decide to go with an “all virtual” learning plan. But, what if some families don’t have access to the tools their students need to learn?
Tim Hall of Madison County schools tells our reporter that back in March, the district started preparing. Not every family has access to wi-fi at home. This need has called for some creative solutions. He adds, “Back when COVID-19 first hit, North Alabama and the governor and the state’s superintendent closed our schools, we saw a need immediately for connectivity with our students. They didn’t have internet, they didn’t have Chromebooks, they couldn’t access online lessons.”
School buses have become a surprising solution to this issue.
Hall says, “We have outfitted ninety of our school buses with wi-fi. Those busses have been taken out to all across Madison County. We have many rural areas in the county.” “Kids who don’t have internet at home can drive to that location, access the wi-fi and do online learning.”
And it’s all possible thanks to a nearly one million dollar donation from Facebook made in April. And wi-fi capabilities have been enhanced outside each of the 29 school locations. So, that’s another option.
But, what about the devices?
Tim Hall tells our reporter, Chromebooks have been purchased for students without computers at home. And some students still have their Chromebooks in possession from virtual learning last year. He adds, “We now have over 20,000 available. We now have the capability to be that 1:1 school district.”
Students who can’t be driven to internet locations can also be given Mi-Fi’s (personal wi-fi devices) to use to log on to their lessons.
Parents: if your student is in need, you have to contact your child’s school to ask about signing up to receive these devices.
On the other end of things, parents may need some help with the change. With students needing to learn from home, childcare could be a big concern as not every parent is able to work from the kitchen table.
The Madison County Chamber of Commerce says in a news release on Wednesday, their ‘Childcare Taskforce’ is looking into solutions for parents.
They hope to take advantage of the Alabama Department of Human Resources’ Temporary Assistance for Stabilizing Childcare (TASCC) grant to help more childcare providers stabilize and reopen.