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97.2 percent of students connect with teachers as distance learning continues

By Staff | Apr 10, 2020

The number of students reaching out to take distance learning last week exceeded 97 percent overall, but there remains a problem with online connectivity with “thousands” still in need of hotspot access.

Chief Academic Officer Dr. Jeff Spiro said at a School Board workshop Tuesday that 97.2 percent of students had been in contact with their teachers over the last six days through phone, email or distance learning.

He said the first task for school counselors in high school was to contact each and every senior through a personal email, sharing what they needed to graduate. In middle and elementary school, the school counselors are available for the students to contact to ask different questions, share their uncertainties or the need for food.

“The school counselors have been extremely busy,” Spiro said.

The second round of 15-day packets are going out next week and they will keep closer tabs on how many are being distributed to students.

Chief Information Officer Trey Davis also shared information about the 3,000 T-Mobile hot spots that were purchased for $720,000 through a one-year contract. The 3,000 hot spots is a conservative number based on surveys conducted before COVD-19.

He said with the global supply chain disruption there was no vendor willing to give hot spots for a three-month contract.

“This had to be a one -ear deal,” which includes unlimited access to the internet for the particular device, which is included, he said. “We own those devices ($84.).

The $720,000 contract includes $20 per month per device for unlimited data.

Davis said there were 1,184 students on the waiting list, as of Tuesday, a number expected to increase. He said the issue faced with an internet essential program, is having the cable structure available to connect to a hot spot.

“We still have thousands of students in need of connectivity,” Davis said.