Internet access challenges students, teachers in rural areas

WWNY Internet access challenges students, teachers in rural areas

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - School districts across the north country are facing a similar problem as the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing more classes online.

"Whether it's Spectrum or Slick, they just haven't reached some of the more rural parts of community," said Dr. Bill Collins, Parishville-Hopkinton Central School superintendent.

"In our region, we're so rural, that most of our homes or at least many of our homes don't even have the option of getting any form of high speed internet," said LaFargeville Central School District Superintendent Travis Hoover.

Gouverneur Central School District Instructional Technology Integration Specialist Stephanie Plaisted says it's not just a problem for students either.

"We have teachers that are in the same situation as students. They live in remote locations and internet access is not possible for them," she said.

Beaver River Central School District Superintendent Todd Green says teachers there are fighting to keep students motivated remotely.

"The responses they're getting back are a lot less than they would expect because, in the classroom, they can keep their thumb on students to make sure that they're responding to what's happening," said Green.

School districts like Beaver River, LaFargeville, Gouverneur, and Parishville-Hopkinton have sent out paper packets to make sure students get needed materials.

Plaisted says Gouverneur has also handed out around 100 portable WiFi hot spots to students.

Hoover says teachers are keeping in touch with students any way they can.

"We sent emails, which our students in certain grade levels have. We've made phone calls to parents. We've used ClassDojo and other apps that we communicate with parents with on a regular basis. And of course, video conferencing software," he said.

North country school districts are adapting with the changing times to continue to educate students.

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