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Students in rural areas struggle with lack of internet access

Kumi Tucker
Updated: September 30, 2020 07:30 PM
Created: September 30, 2020 06:22 PM

BERNE - Berne-Knox-Westerlo has come up with ways to get high speed internet to homes that need it. However, school officials say the basic issue is that young boys and girls in rural areas are being put at a disadvantage. 

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"Nobody, no student in America should lack access to a quality public education because of their zip code," said Dr. Timothy Mundell, school superintendent. 

School is in full swing at Berne-Knox-Westerlo, where the younger students are back in school and the older students have a hybrid schedule. 

However, 30% of this district has spotty or no internet access and school officials consider this an equity issue. 

"Thirty-percent of my kids are getting left behind," said Dr. Mundell. "We've heard about no child left behind. We need to be very serious about this issue as a society in making sure the rural areas are connected, because more and more, technology is going to be a part of learning and education."

That was highlighted in the spring when schools shut down and classes went remote.  

Berne sent out bus drivers with hot spots to help. 

"Where they would go out to about six different spots around the community for three-hour blocks, so that families could come and park next to the suburbans and get the signal that was being generated by the hot spot." 

Now they're helping families get hot spots and transceivers.

Rural areas in NYS lack broadband and need it amid the pandemic

However, school officials say students should be focused on academics, not access. 

The superintendent says governments and municipalities have a responsibility to provide the infrastructure for a long-term solution. 

"I really do believe that the in-ground fiber optic cabling is the high-speed internet answer."


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