ACPS estimates that 700 to 1,000 of their 14,000 students will need assistance with internet access, spokesman Phil Giaramita said. This includes students who don’t have internet access at all and students who don’t have adequate internet access to support online learning.
These families will have three options for accessing coursework:
- the option for their student to come into a nearby school for internet access, with a teacher or teaching assistant to help the student access and understand the virtual curriculum.
- the option to be provided with a Kajeet hot spot device, at no cost to the family, which would link to the data network of the strongest nearby cellular carrier to provide the student with internet access in their home
- the option to have paper educational content and a thumb drive with pre-recorded lectures delivered to the student’s home
According to Giaramita, another option for internet access is in the works. He explained that Comcast has a program offering services to low-income families at a reduced cost. The school division is hoping to cover this cost so some families can get Comcast’s services at no expense.
“We’re still in negotiations with Comcast about it, but I think it’s just a matter of time,” said Giaramita. “It’s likely that we will be able to offer that as yet another option.”
Additionally, Giaramita noted that the district has boosted Wi-Fi signals in each school to increase the range to the buildings’ parking lots.
“If a family doesn’t want to send their child to school — maybe they have some health concerns — they’ll also have the option of driving to the parking lot and being able to download the material from there,” Giaramita said.
ACPS families who will need support with internet access should contact the principal of their students’ school, he said.
“They can contact their principal and let them know what their needs are, and then through the principal will be able to make those arrangements,” Giaramita said. “There’s no application. It’s just a matter of what best fits each individual family’s circumstances.”
As in previous years, each student in grades 3-12 will be given a laptop. Formerly, tablets were given to pairs of K-2 students to share; however, the district is purchasing additional tablets such that each K-2 student will have their own this year.
Charlottesville City Schools
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