Access to wifi for virtual learning really presented challenges for students of color and students of low socioeconomic status (SES). An example of that is families that had past student bills were not able to access free wifi, so several district leaders had conversations with Spectrum and worked out some of those things. That’s just a brief example of the conversations that needed to happen, and I hope that happen across Dane County, to at least ensure all of our kids have the baseline resources to engage and interact with virtual learning while trying to do whatever we can to build systems of support.
Tell me a bit about what things were like in the spring. You have a lot more experience and have had time to think about these things now, but when you first went virtual, what were some of the biggest challenges when it came to students of lower SES or without internet access?
We were able to use our data from the spring to really inform our steps leading into the fall. We’ve administered surveys; we’ve done a systemic job connecting staff to students or families who are low SES.
As the school year starts this coming week, there’s going to need to be ongoing communication with families so that we’re ironing out whatever wrinkles are there. For elementary, like kindergarten or first-, second-graders, if there’s no family member right there with them guiding them through virtual learning, it just adds other layers of complexity. Some parents are at home because they’re able to work from home, that’s a challenge in itself. How can we make sure kids are accessing some level of learning given all the challenges, whether it’s from our end or external environmental challenges?
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