The Tunkhannock Area School District plans to address internet connectivity issues for students learning virtually this fall “house by house, family by family,” according to its superintendent.
When the 2020-21 school year begins on Aug. 31, the district intends for all K-6 students to resume daily classroom instruction.
However, grades 7-12 will learn under a hybrid model, with one half having in-person instruction on Mondays and Tuesdays and the other on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
The off days and every Friday will be virtual for all 7-12 students. While the district’s one-to-one initiative aims to put a device in each student’s hand, not all homes have access to the internet.
Superintendent Heather McPherson said the district has applied for a grant through a local industry which could provide families with “WiFi scholarships.”
“We don’t know whether we’ve gotten it yet but we will continue to provide hot spots and work with families individually who have specific needs... We’ll do whatever we need to do,” she said.
With kids alternating between days at school and days at home, she added that the administration and teachers can better problem solve in these situations.
Director of Technology Joe Kormis has been checking in with local providers about possible deals for families in need of internet connection for virtual schooling this fall, as well as the best providers for specific areas.
After gathering this information, he intends to post it on the district’s website and send it out to families.
“I’m confident there will be some deals coming out,” Kormis said.
Last spring when schools closed and adopted a virtual model, Blue Ridge Communications offered a special which gave families in need a few months of internet service for free. Blue Ridge Regional Manager Tom Freeman said the details haven’t been worked out yet, but the company anticipates offering another program geared towards at-home learning.
“We’ll make sure each school district across our district has this information,” Freeman said. “It was fairly successful in the spring and it’s part of helping our community.”
As of last week, McPherson said parents have continued to register their children for Fusion C3, the district’s in-house program for full-time cyber students.
She asked parents who already knew they wanted to pursue Fusion C3 to let the district know by this past Monday, but noted there’s no “hard and fast deadline.”
“Parents are taking this decision very seriously. I’m talking with a lot of parents every day about their concerns and how things are going to work,” she said.