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Schools Giving Students Laptops Is Great, But Let’s Make Sure They Have Internet Access Too

The COVID-19 pandemic has turned 2020 upside down. Many people have called the situation we are facing unprecedented. Although there are many situations that are new, some situations remain the same. Students who lacked access to certain resources are still going without those resources. 

There are too many students who don’t have access to technology or the internet at home. Depending on the school they attend, they may not have had many opportunities to use technology. Enter COVID-19, the nasty virus that has caused school districts to abruptly close their doors. No fear, the school year can continue…through e-learning. Where does this leave families who cannot afford laptops, tablets, or the internet?

There are school districts who are now loaning out technology to families or purchasing more devices that they can loan out, but this only solves one problem. What’s the point of having a device, if students don’t have the internet to access the assignments?  Yes, companies like Comcast and Spectrum are offering free internet to those in need, but some families have run into roadblocks. Families who have outstanding balances with companies that provide internet services are being told they can’t have internet for free until the pay the balance. This leaves families in a bind.

The COVID-19 pandemic has not only closed schools, but it has also shuttered businesses. How can families pay outstanding internet bills if their jobs are closed, or they are only able to work reduced hours? This “strings attached” free internet needs to come to an end, so all students can be educated at home while schools are closed. 

To help bring internet to all students at home, please consider signing the “We Demand Free Internet for ALL Low-Income Families During COVID-19” online petition.  Schools might be able to provide devices, but schools need help from the community and businesses like internet providers to ensure our students can receive the best education possible during this time.

This article was first posted on indy.education

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Shawnta S. Barnes
Shawnta is a married mother of identical twin boys.  As an Indiana native, she attended school in two Indianapolis school districts; she attended Indianapolis Public Schools for two years and completed her education in Lawrence Township Schools.  Her sons entered kindergarten during the 2016-2017 school year, so she not only navigates Indianapolis schools from the educator perspective but also the parent perspective.  This is her 14th year as an educator.  Although she has worked in the urban traditional public school setting for the majority of her career, she student taught in rural Indiana, worked in the suburbs, and in public charter schools. Currently, she is the Editor in Chief and writer for Indy K12, a middle school academic dean, and CEO and Co-Founder of Barnes Brothers Books, LLC. Previously, she served as an elementary library/media specialist, an adjunct college professor, an elementary and high school literacy coach, a middle and high school English/Language Arts teacher, and K-5 English as a New Language teacher.  She is also the winner of the 2019 Indiana Black Expo Excellence in Education Journalism Award. In her spare time, she is an urban gardener and writes about her harvest to table journey at www.gardenershicole.com. Her Indy K12 articles can be viewed here. To learn more about Shawnta, visit www.educatorbarnes.com or follow her on Twitter and Instagram @educatorbarnes.

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