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Current Unit: COVID-19 Exposes Continued Digital Divide in CCSD & One Solution

COVID-19 COVID-19 Exposes Continued Digital Divide in CCSD & One Solution

We’re beginning the 4th week of our CCSD remote-learning experimentation (5th week of the shelter-in-place order, but last week was “Spring Break” so our vestigial attachment to dates persists…). The week before Spring Break, our school’s music specials teacher reported that he had 88 students report in on his classes hosted on the SeeSaw service. Considering there was no forewarning when we left campus on Friday, March 13th, that we would not be allowed to return to campus and that we were expected to continue instruction from home, getting responses from 88 students/families was pretty good. Problem is that we have over 350 students. Getting 88 out of 350 (24%) to connect to an online portal isn’t spectacular, but that’s only one measure. Beginning in week two homeroom teachers were calling every student at least once a week. But many were reporting that a lot of families had no technology at home to facilitate any form of “online learning.”

2019-05-06 PEW - lower income American lower tech-adoption

2019-05-06 PEW – lower income American lower tech-adoption

We are over 25-years into this era of the Information Super Highway, but according to a 2019 PEW report just over one-half of lower income of American households (making less than $30,000 per year) have a desktop or laptop computer at home and about the same number have access to “broadband” Internet. Only 36% have tablet computers at home (which are entirely dependent on access to the Internet to be “useful”). While 71% have access to smartphones (doubling the number since 2013), those with access only to smartphones are going to be at a huge disadvantage compared to families with access to high-speed internet and a desktop or laptop computer. This isn’t to suggest that many families aren’t quite ingenious when it comes to doing great things with very little, but let’s not ignore how much more difficult “remote learning” can be on a small screen versus a laptop or desktop computer.

So, with the last month or so left in the current school year and the strong possibility that we will remain in “remote learning” mode until the Fall, what can we do? For low income families in Clark County, the problem of having a good internet connection can be addressed by contacting Cox via their customer service line (702.383.4000) and ask about the two-months of free internet service called “Connect2Complete.” I contacted one store that is near my school (Cox Authorized Retailer, 1611 W. Craig Rd., North Las Vegas NV 89032, 702.331.2500) and asked what a potential customer needs to get the free service. The sales rep said they will look up the customer’s address to see if they qualify for the program and that’s it. After the two-months families are charged $10 a month for the connection. So, a family can either go into a local Cox store or contact them via the customer service number (702.383.4000) and that takes care of getting a good internet connection.  What to connect to the Internet to facilitate “remote learning” is another question that I will investigate next time.

In the meantime, here’s a list of places where you might go to set-up your free-internet:

  • Cox Authorized Retailer, 1611 W. Craig Rd., North Las Vegas NV 89032, 702.331.2500
  • Cox, 1700 Vegas Dr., Las Vegas NV 89106, 702.384.8084
  • Cox Solutions Store, 750 N. Rancho Dr., Las Vegas NV 89106, 702.463.1714
2020-04-14 Cox WiFi near HP Fitzgerald ES, North Las Vegas NV

2020-04-14 Cox WiFi near HP Fitzgerald ES, North Las Vegas NV

Cox promotes Free WiFi spots around Las Vegas, but according to the map of North Las Vegas there are none in the neighborhood of Fitzgerald Elementary. Do you have any suggestions about how to get a good Internet connection, to help with our current remote-learning situation?