Challenges of distance learning amid COVID-19 pandemic

Coronavirus

JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Some schools have already announced their plans for the upcoming semester amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but some of the options may cause problems for students in rural areas.

Many schools will have virtual learning, but not all students have access to wifi.

“There are some things in his books that they tell you to go online and watch a video. He can’t watch that video because we don’t have internet access,” said Memory Carouthers, who is a parent.

She is worried that not having internet access may have a negative affect on her son’s education.

“I mean you have to sit in parking lots of restaurants, hotels, just to try to pick up wifi for your kid to finish off their work.”

Carouthers said it’s frustrating to be without the new necessity.

“The thing about it is that some of our neighbors around us have high speed internet, but we don’t. It’s only because they’re offering it in certain areas and then cutting it off at certain blocks, and then the internet that they do offer is dial up,” she said.

Understanding that this is a reality for some students in their schools, the Claiborne County School District adopted a method that won’t put students without access at a disadvantage.

“It will be a variety of things. That’s why it’s not called virtual, it’s called distance learning. It can be in the form of teacher made assignments that students will have received before leaving school,” said Nonya C. Thrasher, the interim superintendent of the school district.

One person who has been fighting for broadband internet in rural areas in Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley.

“Too many people in Mississippi are disconnected from the outside world and cannot participate in the modern economy while being in a pandemic without having to drive to the local McDonald’s, outside in the parking lot to do their homework. And that’s unacceptable,” stated Presley.

A $75 million funding package for broadband access was passed by the Mississippi Legislature.

“It won’t cover every rural home, but it will be a good foundation to get that service going,” said Presley.

He said the pandemic did highlight the state’s need for internet service in rural areas.

“The need for high speed internet service is never going to be less it’s only going to be more. God forbid we go through another pandemic, but the world is not going to slow down so we need to fix this problem now, or we will stay behind in Mississippi and our children will stay behind,” said Presley.

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