STEUBEN COUNTY, N.Y. (WETM) — As schools begin to wrap up another semester during the pandemic, rural communities are facing a wireless connection problem. Superintendents have been working on making sure every student gets the education they deserve.
Before the 2020-21 school year began, some parents had the option to pick a learning model: remote, in-person, hybrid.
“In person learning is much better than remote learning, we already knew that coming in,” said Tom Crook, Superintendent of Canisteo-Greenwood Central School District. “If you are going to choose remote learning, your access to internet is extremely important to the success of that.”
School districts have purchased and set up hotspots for their students to use.
“Students can drive to the hotspot and download their work and head back home, complete the assignment and come back to upload and submit it,” Crook said.
But even with hotspot service, it’s difficult to place them in rural area’s where it’s needed.
“In Steuben County, there’s spots in our district where it really is not going to make a difference because they have no access to cell service either,” Crook said. “So with the hotspots, if you don’t have cell service, it’s not gonna work.”
Meanwhile for the Bath Central School District, the Superintendent told 18 News, with hotspots, it’s still not enough.
“The inequities are visible, with students who have broadband and those that don’t,” said Joseph Rumsey, Superintendent of the Bath Central School District. “The big thing is recognizing is that every student has some of those issues and our staff will stand on their head if they have to, to help their students.”
Staff members in Bath are making sure students are learning the information they need to know by focusing on three major points:
- What are the most important topics that need to be taught in person?
- What is easier to do in person versus remotely?
- What are parents capable of doing to help their students?
“Our staff, that’s one of their top priorities, that triage of crucial material to cover,” Rumsey said. “That’s helped us; by those folks recognizing that.”
As remote learning continues to become more prominent for students, COVID-sliding has become an issue. COVID-sliding is when students aren’t learning the information they need to know for the next level.
“This is because of the closure,” Crook said. “Math is a common subject for students. An example the 5th grade level, the COVID-slide was so much, that it’s as if they were never in 5th grade. And some of the other ones were pushing the kids back to even the beginning of, lets say, fourth or third grade. You’re battling those COVID gaps and at the same time you’re wanting to make sure you’re addressing the standard because the state is still asking to teach the standards. It’s that fine line between making sure you’re addressing the standards of your grade levels but also making sure you’re being cognitive of the gap we have because of the COVID-slide.”
Rumsey told 18 News, making sure students get a proper education is important because they are our future leaders.
“Our staff have done phenomenal adapting but I think we can learn a lot from our kids today,” Rumsey said. “Many times we hear our students are lazy-those things- those clichés. I beg a differ, they’re different. Walk down the hallway with me and you’ll see some of the most amazing young leaders you’ll ever find.”