rural arizona

Since the start of the COVID-19 lockdown, students and teachers have struggled to continue their schooling. While the solution seemed to be online classes, that is not an option for many students across Arizona who have little to no internet access at home.

On April 8, Governor Doug Ducey announced that the Arizona Commerce Authority and the Arizona Department of Education partnered up to provide 200 mobile hotspots for K-12 students in need of internet access to continue their academic career from the safety of their home.

In addition, ACA and ADE opened a donation drive to encourage companies to provide mobile internet hotspots to local students. The state will provide internet subscriptions for each of the 200 hotspot devices, which will filter online content appropriate for students.

“Since schools were first closed by the Governor in mid-March we knew that students being able to connect with their classrooms from home was/is critical to academic success for the remainder of the school year,” said Morgan Dick, ADE public information officer. “The digital divide in Arizona is deep, so many families are not connected because of where they live, or because of the high-cost to get connected. This partnership would not be possible without the generous support of the Arizona Commerce Authority.”

Since the shutdown in mid-March, certain students with no internet access have struggled to contact their teachers or turn in required assignments.

“There are students who don’t have internet access that have to get the physical assignments mailed to them,” said Jackie Larson, a senior at Nogales High School. “It’s also difficult because they also may not be getting all the information or help they need to complete the assignment.”

While many students may have access to laptops or tablets – whether provided by their schools or from their own pockets – internet access has become a commodity that many students are not able to reach, therefore schools have had to work around this issue to get their students the education they need, even if it takes longer than usual.

Other teachers have employed a relaxed grading system due to the information not getting to every student on time.

Students who do struggle to get internet access are encouraged to contact their schools for more information about their participation in the Mobile Hotspot Drive.

“Many students may have access to laptops or tablets without adequate internet connection,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman during the April 8 announcement. “That’s why we’re grateful to have this partnership in place to get hotspots to students who need them — and there are many students who need them. We encourage all of our nonprofit and private sector partners to join this effort to help make a big impact for students across our state.”

For more information, visit arizonatogether.org 

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