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Students experience digital divide in cities, not just rural areas

Published: Oct. 6, 2020 at 7:24 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Learning for the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) Elementary Students stalled for about two hours Tuesday morning, according to the district.

A district representative says its cloud-based program was to blame and that this is the first time this has happened.  The issue has been resolved.

But one teacher said the frustrations with technical difficulties go beyond what happened Tuesday.

“I am working the most I have in my 27 years of teaching,” Fourth Grader Teacher Kari Petre said. “Connectivity of kids, [is a] huge issue,” Petre said. “You have kids who are frozen in your zoom, kids who are kicked out every few minutes. the lag with some kids is so drawn out, that they can’t contribute.”

The Lincoln Elementary educator said the digital divide isn’t just a problem in the rural areas, it’s also impacting the way kids learn in cities, like Madison.

“We have to get to work and pass some legislation that supports our public schools so that they can have the resources that are needed to be able to do whether it be face to face or virtual or a hybrid of the two,” Ron Martin, Pres. of the Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC) said.

Martin said those resources have a wide range; that incorporates personal protective equipment (PPE) and plexiglass for in-person classes, but also applies to improvements for internet connection.

“Financial support is absolutely needed when we talk about the digital divide, we’ve got to address that,” Martin said.

Petre added that one way to solve the issue, could be providing multiple hotspots to families who need them, for a stronger connection to the internet and to their lessons.

“But when you have a multi-family household on a hotspot, it’s not doing jack-diddly,” Petre said. “Especially kids who have a parent working at home as well, it’s been really tough.”

The MMSD is scheduled for all virtual learning through October. If COVID-19 conditions improve, the district will re-evaluate that decision for November.

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