Schools Increase Their WiFi Power For Families – COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSYX/WTTE) — Families with no internet access during this pandemic say they’re suffering major struggles with assignments and classwork.
One Columbus mother spoke to Scoring Our Schools who took her three children to Parsons Elementary School to try to use the district’s WiFi. She wanted to remain anonymous as she cannot afford the internet at home.
“I lost my job. We were all laid off. There’s absolutely no income, right now,” said the mother. “We go to fast food places, here at school, library parking lots.”
The family sat along the brick and mortar of the school as they said the broadband could not reach their van in the parking lot. Battling Monday’s chilly temperatures and severe wind, only one of the children was able to log onto his device to do his schoolwork.
“Now, it’s spring break but we’re still here,” said this kids’ mother. “We have to come pretty much every day and try to get on.”
Columbus City School representatives told the school board last week that they surveyed the broadband at 92 district schools.
The district said it increased its WiFi power to reach its sidewalks and parking lots. In its survey, CCS found the broadband increased at 81 of the schools. Scoring Our Schools asked for a list of those schools but has yet to receive it.
“At all four schools, we’ve had the same situation,” said the mother at Parsons Elementary. “Just getting kicked off, back on, kicked back off. It’s really just been a mess at all of them.”
The mother said her three children ages nine through 14 are gifted. However, her youngest is now behind with 42 assignments.
She tried to call an internet provider now offering free service but said they were still going to change her for installation and rental. Knowing other families are in this same situation, the CCS Board of Education approved to pay $35,000 to get some of their families online through mid-June with Verizon.
Its partner, I Know I Can, has also donated more than 500 devices that can produce hot spots. The district has yet to say if they’ve distributed them and to who.
“It’s just a huge educational gap between the people who are privileged and the people who just can’t get it,” said the mother with no internet now one month into the school closure.