Teaching Through the Digital Divide

Last updated Nov 23, 2020.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to upend our education system, up to 16 million students in the U.S. are without access to the technology they need to participate in distance learning. And it's not just students—up to 400,000 teachers lack adequate internet access for teaching remotely. Explore the latest stats and educator stories below.

Students who lack adequate internet access:

By geography

  • 21% urban
  • 25% suburban
  • 37% rural

By race/ethnicity

  • 18% White
  • 26% Latinx
  • 30% Black
  • 35% Native American

Latest Statistics and Educator Stories

Select a state to see the digital divide's toll.

Hover over a state to see details. Click to read educator stories.

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internet access

Without access to the internet:

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devices

Without devices at home for distance learning:

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{{ ctrl.byState[state].col_Q }}% of teachers ({{ ctrl.byState[state].col_P }})

{{ ctrl.selectedState.longname }} Educator Stories

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Tammy, high school teacher, Kasigluk, says:

"The majority of students attending the school where I teach have no internet access at home. Our only available internet service provider has offered free internet for every student in the state who needs it, but this is beyond their capacity to facilitate, so even though our school assigns laptops, almost none of our instruction can be online."

Tricette, high school teacher, Montgomery, says:

"The digital divide has directly impacted the kids I interact with every day. My (small private) school’s administration worked tirelessly to personally provide devices and internet access to each of our families, but their efforts often fell short due to limited resources. I often held virtual classes and tutoring with fewer than 20% of scholars in attendance. Teachers attempted to contact parents, but they were often out working and unable to be reached. Many of our parents had multiple children waiting for them to return home after work, so that they could all share the parent’s single device to complete school assignments. I am certain that many of my scholars could have passed this last quarter if they simply had reliable access to technology. As a result, they have fallen behind, which will detrimentally affect their belief in their own ability to learn, in conjunction with anxiety due to living in already uncertain times. If children are to be expected to learn in a remote environment, they must be equipped with the necessary tools. I am going to do all that I can in the fall to help ensure that children receive the instruction that they need, but it is vitally important that we #connectallstudents to aid in this effort, as soon as possible."

Michael, elementary school teacher, Madison, says:

"The school system is unable to provide a device for every student. Some of the student assignments cannot be completed on a mobile phone. Our teachers care about every student but don't have the financial resources to support them."

Shelly, higher education student, Rogers, says:

"For very low low income people there is no chance for higher education. I put higher education because have no resource for internet and a laptop to get there. With people less than 10000 a year people don't have a chance at all to do better and no one cares. One my neighbors committed suicide. Once someone is down can't get back up without resources to help. Could you make it? Want to see my governer try."

Kathryn, elementary school teacher, Rogers, says:

"Some of my students didn't have reliable internet connections. My grandchildren have not been able to access affordable internet where they are located. Cox will charge them 5,000 dollars to bring it less than a quarter of a mile."

Chelsea, elementary school teacher, Fountain Lake, says:

"I teach 4th grade in a semi-rural school. After polling the community, a lack of home connectivity compelled the admin to place 3 "hot spots" in various school parking lots for families to use. So if it is about every student, then every student has to have the same opportunities to succeed to their potential. It is about access for all!"

Beth, elementary school teacher, Phoenix, says:

"Multiple children in one household are required to complete online assignments, attend virtual meetings with their teacher, and also have parents working from home, and they all depend on the same technology. Our district loaned out laptops to families needing them, but the limit was one per family."

Josefina, parent, Prescott Valley, says:

"We used to see having a computer and internet as a luxury to have but now we realize they are a must thing to have in times like this. Just as any parent I would love to see my son being successful in his learning."

Kathy, middle school teacher, Mesa, says:

"My students cannot possibly receive the same level of instruction as those with devices and internet. My students cannot possibly compete in our society when they are not given a level playing field through no fault of their own."

Charlotte, middle and high school teacher, Mayer, says:

"I am not a teacher, but work in a program for 1st gen, disadvantaged youth in a rural setting. Our governor has provided hotspots in parking lots, however, many of these students’ families don’t have a car to get to the parking lot, nor a device for the student(s) to work on."

Catherine, middle school teacher, Phoenix, says:

"We have 1/6 of our middle school not able to participate in education. And only 1/3 are routinely logging in. I don’t know how we will restructure for the students who are missing the last two months of school."

Tina, elementary school teacher, El Mirage, says:

"Many of our students do not have access to wifi or technology, we have packets for drop off and pick up for our families. Lack of technology only adds to the stress for us and our families as we continue to try and support each other as we maintain a a quality of education the best we can for our students."

Ginny, elementary school teacher, Chandler, says:

"I work in a school with low SES and many of my students do not have access to the internet or a device to use to access services. Concerns I have include severe regression in skills learned, thus time lost with moving forward in their skills required to progress in academics and in life skills."

Sandra, high school teacher, Whiteriver, says:

"I work on an Indian Reservation up in the mountains of Arizona. Currently I have 1/3 of my students signed up for online learning. Less than that actually participate."

Tawnya, elementary school teacher, Chandler, says:

"My school printed up packets and used 11, 000+ pieces of paper. The problem we are running into is that a lot our students parents cannot come during our designated times to pick up packets because they are at work. These students are in critical danger of being left behind."

Lynn, middle school teacher, Scottsdale, says:

"Our school is very lucky as all of my middle school students have Chromebooks supplied by our school at the beginning of the year. If students did not have access we offered times and locations to pick up Chromebooks for use during this time. The majority of our schools have been providing this service."

Lupita, superintendent, Tolleson, says:

"Given the global pandemic, and the switch to distance learning, it is imperative to provide essential tools and resources to all our students, closing the digital divide and increasing their chances for success. We need your help for the sake of future generations!"

Deita, elementary school teacher, Phoenix, says:

"This has been quite the struggle for all involved. Teachers want to make sure first and foremost that their students are emotionally and physically okay. We want to make sure that parents don't feel overwhelmed. We want to make sure that what we are providing for the students to do is meaningful and promotes academic growth and supports continued learning. As a teacher I feel ill equipped and unprepared which effects my emotional state as well."

Linda, parent, says:

"Tengo dos hijas. La mayor tiene 18 años y la otra tiene 16 años. Ellas estudian en un charter school y son buenas alumnas. Desafortunadamente, en casa solamente tenemos una computadora vieja y no tiene la capacidad para que ellas puedan hacer sus tareas. Ellas siempre se quejan que nuestra computadora es vieja, que no sirve, que tienen que tomar turnos y se atrasan así que muchas veces usan su celulares. Yo soy housekeeper y mi esposo electricista. Afortunadamente tenemos comida y para el dia a dia, pero no nos alcanza el dinero para comprar una computadora nueva. Con el cierre de las escuelas nos hemos enfrentado a una situación difícil porque las niñas se están atrasando demasiado en la escuela. "

Kindel, high school teacher, Mountain View, says:

"Lack of internet access spans a range of tech glitches. While I teach in a well-resourced, zip-code favored district, some 30% of my students experience a disconnect most days. Students living in multi-generational homes, with 3 - 5 siblings sharing a device/wifi port aren't able to conference verbally....and we're in the middle of writing an essay. For heaven's sake, if a student can't think out loud, how will they move to the "pen to paper'? My district has prioritized/privileged 7-year-olds over 17 years olds. The bottom line - those seven-year-olds have ten years to close the gap. My kiddos? Just 18 months. So incredibly shortsighted."

Rain, high school teacher, Arcata, says:

"I advocate for local Native American students in K-12. There are many households that do not have enough devices for the whole family. Siblings have to share and often parents have to share devices with their children. There are also places where there is not high speed Internet, broadband, fiber optic or the infrastructure. These rural communities are mostly Native American children including the Yurok, Hoopa, and Wiyot Tribes. Some students have to drive to the school parking lot to get wi-fi access, or are stuck in the unfair situation of having to do only paper homework, while other students get the social and educational benefit of a virtual classroom with their teacher and peers. This digital divide creates a disparate educational experience and those that were already struggling in the classroom in a face-to-face setting are falling further behind, including those who need special and individual education due to a learning or other disability. This also creates a gap between those that can afford high speed Internet and those that can afford to buy enough devices for their children, and those that can't. Often that difference has to do with race, including Native American children who may come from low income families."

Jennifer, elementary school teacher, Olympic Valley, says:

"I am a first grade teacher. This last spring, I met with students in small group or 1:1 on average 6 times a day, for a half hour each session. I primarily taught reading skills during these sessions, because that is what first grade students need to learn most. Despite our district offering hotspots and 1:1 devices, there are still 500 families in my small mountain district without connection. Some of these families live in trailer parks, where for some reason the hotspots provided do not work. Some of the families will have internet that works one day, and not another. Even for those who had internet fairly consistently, not all families understood how to use the chromebooks, Zoom, or other programs, because they had received no training whatsoever. Due to the specific circumstances of where I live (a tourist area in the Sierra Nevada mountains), half of my class receives school lunch assistance, and half is quite wealthy. What I saw was that half of my students, the half that needed me most, couldn't access our meetings. Their reading slipped, they forgot what school was like, and when I could connect with them, they seemed disengaged and unmotivated. The half of my class that will likely be just fine in life, due to their parents' economic resources, had all the computer and internet access anyone could as for. This is a terrible, gut-wrenching inequity. "

Tiffany, parent, Redding, says:

"The connection is so bad it interrupts and reconnects several times during school lessons and violin lessons and makes my child with disabilities so frustrated he will go into full meltdown and stop altogether!"

Tracy, elementary school teacher, Redwood Valley, says:

"We live in a rural alley surrounded by hills and mountains thickly forested in redwoods. Students who live outside of the valley have very little connectivity. When towers are placed, they are often blocked by mountains and the thick forests. Students may have internet at home, but not at the babysitters house. Many of our second language and lower performing students, who need support in order to participate in distance education, are not able to access lessons and intervention."

Julia, high school teacher, Pinole, says:

"There are many, many who I haven't heard from at all. I never noticed how much I relied on the quick check in by the door, or wandering the room to tap kids on the shoulder, or a kid coming to see me at lunch or between classes. "How do we continue to do this equitably?" and furthermore, "How do we rebuild a community at a distance?""

Brooke, high school teacher, Galt, says:

"Technology access has been a huge challenge for the high schools. We have students in town and many in the country. Despite having local ISPs giving free temporary access to students, it doesn't reach everywhere and is quite slow. One of my students said it might take 30 minutes to watch a 2-minute Khan Academy lesson because the streaming freezes often while loading more content."

Miki, high school teacher, Redwood City, says:

"I am a teacher and do not have reliable access to internet. I cannot afford internet. I am using my personal hotspot to teach with is unreliable and slow. There is not a program to support teachers who need internet access."

Jessica, elementary school teacher, Oakland, says:

"Over 30% of our families currently do not have Internet at home, 35% of students are accessing online content via parents' smartphones. That creates a whole other set of challenges: parents needing the phone for their own communication needs, parents being at work and students unable to access online work, limited data plans creating worries about paying bills or losing connectivity."

Dennis, elementary school teacher, Rocklin, says:

"Even though our district is relatively more affluent and is considered a model for other districts on our area, we still have students who have no access to broadband at home. We are struggling to get hotspots to those who are still unable to connect to our distance learning classrooms. We need broadband services everywhere and to everyone."

Karle, elementary, middle, and high school teacher, Clovis, says:

"As an educator I am struggling to teach effectively and have my children connect with their teachers. For us to connect, we have to make my phone a hotspot which is spotty service. I am unsure how to bring internet to my area."

Roxanne, elementary school teacher, Marysville, says:

"I have about 20 out of 30 students who are online. I get to see their faces, see their work on a daily basis, and support them. It's those 10 students who I worry about. Do they feel left out, are they having anxiety of falling behind, frustrated because they may not have any support, and how are they dealing with what is going on around them? Education is supposed to be equal, but right now it is shouting in our faces how much it is not."

Karen, elementary school teacher, Thermal, says:

"80% of my students' families speak Spanish only and more than half of them work in the fields morning and night. They use mobile phones for remote learning and they need Wi-Fi. My school district's proposal is loaning tablets and parking buses with Wi-Fi routers in their neighborhoods. The parents of my students are the reason we have fresh food on our tables. They work very long and hard hours just to provide food and shelter for their families. In one of the wealthiest countries in the world, this is unacceptable."

Jim, high school teacher, Guasti, says:

"We are in our fourth week of dismissal, and we are still finding students that have neither the equipment of the internet access to stay connected to the system. These kids are falling behind."

Michelle, elementary school teacher, Murphys, says:

"Even the children who have what they need, these kids are also losing out, due to the teachers feeling they cannot teach right now if not all have access. It is incredibly frustrating! ALL students need devices and access to the internet, which in today's world are the school "materials" to learn."

Martha, elementary school teacher, Cresent City, says:

"Devices are being passed out . However, understandably, the district is requiring parents to sign a financial agreement form for the device. But many of our kids are in the low socioeconomic group, our county is the highest for domestic violence and substance abuse, so many parents won't sign the agreement. More devices and connectivity will take most of the educational stress off our families."

Carrie, elementary school teacher, Daly City, says:

"1/3 of my class - 8 of my 24 students - has not connected to me in any way, despite outreach from me, my school site, and my district (email, robo-calls, phone calls & texts). Some of our families have immigration/legal status concerns and live in constant fear. "

Sandra, elementary school teacher, Vista, says:

"I would love for school to let teachers back into their classroom. Where the teachers are in classrooms onsite maybe in a car while students are given access to materials set like iPads and textbooks, consumables that these particular students are otherwise not able to access remotely. "

Tammy, high school teacher, Fowler, says:

"Our school has arranged for hot spots where students can connect to WiFi. Some of my students are not responding to emails or assignments given."

John, elementary school teacher, Sanger, says:

"Remote learning is a new concept and many teachers struggle to deliver instruction. The problem is two-fold, connectivity and training to deliver content."

Cindy, elementary school teacher, Robbins, says:

"There is so much some of my students are missing out on because of a weak signal or no signal -- windows to how the world at large is developing. I just sent a link to a NASA story about how the employees are driving the Mars Rover FROM HOME! But there are several students who won't be able to play it. We need infrastructure, not just laptops and hotspots."

Christine, middle school teacher, Gridley, says:

"We are creating small groups with students to support all learning types. Students who may need to walk through a lesson at a slower pace. Students are able to ask questions at their own pace. The student to teacher connection is tailored to the students needs."

Ronda, elementary, middle, and high school teacher, Victorville, says:

"We are now 5 weeks into this and with creativity of lessons, an abundance of online learning being made available our school is determined to finish the school year strong."

Debora, elementary and middle school teacher, Oakland, says:

"At our school, there are local companies who are willing to provide low cost internet service if you do not, nor ever had an outstanding unpaid bill at your address. Our PTA stepped up and made an agreement that the bills be sent to the school and we provided a pre-paid Visa cards for the families we sponsored."

Melinda, elementary and middle school teacher, Big Pine, says:

"Families need access to Hot Spots for connectivity"

Andrea, elementary and middle school teacher, Rosemead, says:

"I work in a public elementary school in a Title I district. We have distributed laptops to all of our students who needed one, but we are still not getting 100% participation from our students. Our classes are getting 50-75% participation rates. Our teachers have set up Google Classrooms and some are holding meetings via Google Hangouts or Zoom. Our main obstacle (aside from poverty) is lack of internet. We have referred families to Spectrum for free internet, but some families were not able to sign up. My district is now working to distribute hot spots. I went to visit some of my students to take their families Target gift cards. I have families with several people sharing one, small apartment, which isn’t conducive to learning. I spoke with one of my students this afternoon. She told me that isn’t always able to do her work, because she helps her parents sew masks to sell. Basically, the obstacles we face are many and there is no one size fits all solution. Until we eradicate poverty, we will never have a public education system that works for everyone."

Abbie, high school teacher, Los Angeles, says:

"Endre is a 15 year old daughter of a single mom who works in a nursing home in elder care. They live near USC in Los Angeles. Her mother is gone most days for long hours and Endre is now home alone. They cannot afford Wifi or a laptop so Endre is trying to do all her homework using a smartphone. She had always been a straight A student. I only found out about it because I offered her a laptop and she said her mom said no. Then I asked why and spoke with her mom. She's kinda like my foster kid. A niece of my dad's former caregiver. Such a great kid."

Estella, parent, says:

"Tengo un niño de 10 años y está en quinto grado. es muy inteligente y creativo. Es complicado para nosotros tenerlo al corriente con sus responsabilidades escolares y desafortunadamente el distrito al que pertenecemos no le facilitó las herramientas necesarias para mantenerlo ocupado y activo en sus actividades escolares, a lo cual yo estoy muy preocupada porque no cuento con lo necesario para tenerlo al corriente en tareas y conocimiento. Nosotros hacemos lo que podemos pero honestamente ocupamos una computadora para que mi hijo pueda tomar sus clases en línea. Como padres ya no sabemos qué más ponerlo a hacer porque nosotros no tenemos el conocimiento que tiene el maestro para que siga aprendiendo. Aquí lo único que podemos hacer es ponerlo a leer o a practicar matemáticas. Pero ni su papá ni yo sabemos sobre ciencias o historia. Estamos preocupados porque el niño está perdiendo tiempo y práctica. Si tuviera una computadora, entonces él podría utilizar programas para seguir aprendiendo y podría tener una rutina del estudio, pero desafortunadamente no la tiene."

Natalie, teacher, Los Angeles, says:

"I had a student use his mobile device as a hotpot and I felt so bad when he shared his screen. It took him about 3 minutes to click on a link to upload his assignments. He is still turning all assignments but, wow! the kids has patience!"

Corrine, teacher, Los Angeles, says:

"Teachers are also struggling, not the same way but still. Many have to spend money to increase bandwidth or to buy new routers. Or struggle to be online with low connections, trying to teach on zoom."

Cesar, high school and higher education teacher, Longmont, says:

"As a secondary and post-secondary moderate/severe Special Ed teacher with 10 years experience across the state of California my concerns for students left offline keep me up at night: How can I support students and parents offline? How can I get them online? Are they engaging in the activities and work packets we have sent home for them? Are they receiving any kind of enrichments? How is all of this impacting my students and their families? I have students that are suffering from limited and lack of reliable internet and instructional access. No to adequate devices. Yes to juggling working from home with a twist: my wife and i lost our condo to a building fire in Hayward in May and we bounced around the SF Bay Area living off of our homeowners' coverage from May to October hoping to get our condo reconstructed ASAP. Well, in the COVID-19 reality we live in that has not happened and we have been forced to "temporarily" relocate to Colorado as we now have to pay rent and mortgage and paying rent in the bay area is for Techies - and my wife is a Mexican immigrant (Cal grad) biologist who now works in DNI at Facebook - no irony there. No, there is no mortgage assistance for loss in fire. As far as resources as concerned: functional/appropriate and accessible instructional tools and curriculum for my students with moderate to severe disabilities. NO, we are not. We are being set up to fail while being told we are being supported and set up to succeed. Short term solutions have given some students more visibility but over all the short terms solutions (which have never worked before in special ed but that is all we have in a reactive system lead by administrators that are completely lost touch with the realities of students, families, teachers and all other stakeholders. The limitations are almost endless..."

Bianca, elementary school teacher, Denver, says:

"My biggest concern at the moment is that I still have a handful of students who although might have devices (provided by district) they do not have internet connection at home. It is very hard to get them access to the internet especially when on top of that they might have a language barrier."

Pat, elementary, middle, and high school teacher, Peyton, says:

"e-Learning is not the only aspect of the next decade's education model for the excluded, and especially the special needs community, both young and old. I look forward to this conversation and gap narrowing visionary conversation, that will go on for decades to come."

Jessica, elementary school teacher, Denver, says:

"In our district there was only limited amount of Chromebooks available. They distributed to high school and middle school students first because they are the most in need for the technology. Elementary schools were the last to receive technology."

Sharon, elementary school teacher, Severance, says:

"We have tried to keep our students' spirits high with teacher parades, emails, special virtual clubs, lunch bunches, virtual office hours, group music jam sessions, etc. Mostly students miss the physical contact with people so the more Google Meetings we can have with some of them the better. Our concern has always been the summer slide, but now we have a bigger "slide" for students as we look at going into fall."

Kalen, elementary school teacher, Aurora, says:

"The highlight of my day is the 30 minute virtual class meetings that we have. However, I cannot teach anything since everyone does not attend. So we visit, share our stories, and do an activity "together." But that isn’t enough."

Tracy, elementary school teacher, Grand Junction, says:

"Our elementary students are learning at home using Chromebooks distributed by our schools. Our local cable company is providing free temporary internet service for families with school-age children. We have some students who are unable to take advantage of that because of their family's previously unpaid bills with the cable company, which leaves those students completely disconnected from their teachers and classmates."

Sarah, teacher, Fort Collins, says:

"#edtech tools are no longer nice to have, #teachersareheroes because they are being forced to embrace technology to build relationships with students. We must create equitable learning environments or school will only be for the very privileged!"

Joyah, middle school teacher, says:

"I have asked students to reach out to their friends who they know are not online and ask them to share why they are not connecting."

Kathy, middle school teacher, Tallahassee, says:

"We have quite a number of students whose families have no wifi (and we are one of the schools with higher socioeconomic students) or only one computer, but several children and parents are trying to share. Our teachers are trying to keep things very simple and are making packets for those without connectivity. This has resulted mostly in review work instead of new concepts, which will affect their learning next year. Phone calls are being made to those we have not yet connected with digitally to see what their situation is, etc. If parents are expressing a need for another computer, our technology coordinator is checking out laptops we use for state testing, but we are not advertising it. We recently had our teachers send a clip of themselves with signs telling the kids how much we missed them and passing a roll of toilet paper over to the side. I put the clips together into a video to make it look like we were passing the toilet paper to each other (which turned out great!). I plan to deliver some prizes to my students who read all 15 books from our Sunshine State list (I'm the librarian). This is typically when we have our Voting party (where they vote for their favorite one from this year) and I reward those who read all 15. I may have a couple of others follow me in their cars to deliver the awards. I had a virtual book club meeting this morning with some of my kids and it was so good to see them! This is what I worry about most with our students...their frames of mind as they are socially isolated from one another (in person), especially those who are not connected digitally."

Melinda, elementary school teacher, Orlando, says:

"It is very unfortunate for the population my charter school serves. Out of 34 students I serve, only 18 have internet or technology access. The other students are paper packets that their caregivers cannot teach. Nor do they have an adult home with them to help them through their work. - very sad."

Miguelina, middle school teacher, Lake Worth, says:

"For some of our students, access to the internet and devices has been a true challenge. I've been making paper copies of assignments and dropping off at students' homes along with chapter books, school supplies, and food and snack bags. I've mailed some along with self-addressed, stamped envelopes for returning the completed work. My team and I are also constantly contacting parents and students by phone. Some students even take pictures of completed assignments and email them to us. Whatever it takes to keep them learning and connected to their teachers and friends!"

Maria, elementary school teacher, Fort Stewart, says:

"My two special needs children have been attending virtual learning since late August. They are high risk for health complications and see about 11 specialty care providers. This means traveling to or attending many virtual appointments. The use of cell phones hot spot and sharing one laptop is done. We are a military family far from needed support and little resources. Internet provider is not reliable and we live in an area with climate that impacts connection too. Recently our printer broke and with finance challenges this means no replacement. My children have IEP'S in school and I am having to advocate for needs and assistive technology they could benefit from. My concern is they don't not get the reading and paraprofessional support they need."

Ashley, elementary school teacher, Zebulon, says:

"From a recent poll conducted in our rural Georgia county, it was determined that 75% of our students do not have reliable access to the internet. When schools abruptly closed in March, it felt like I lost over half of my class. They lived in the “blackout” zones where internet service providers didn’t see it as financially viable to serve these parts of our county. Sure, we had Zoom meetings, but very low attendance made it difficult to keep in touch with our students. We started a Facebook group for our fifth graders to keep in touch with what they’re doing since we won’t see them again as they move on to middle school. Again, a large portion of our fifth grade students couldn’t participate due to lack of connectivity. We offered online instruction as well as packets that we made each week and put out for the kids in front of the school. Those without transportation just became a part of the isolation and Covid-slide. A group of local businesses, Construction consultants, EMC, campaign developers, state representatives, our county superintendent, mayor, IT consultants, and other stakeholders met to try and cobble together funding, resources, and possible IT solutions to the infrastructure issues we face that directly affect our students and community. Question: How do we prepare students for 21st century technology skills when they cannot even join a Zoom call? We call our team #pikeready because we are poised and ready for change and equity in education for our kids. "

Judy, university professor, Carrollton, says:

"Connectivity, alone, will not solve the problem. Professional development is severely needed."

Kristie, high school teacher, Lexington, says:

"Our school sent every student home with a device; however, not every student has internet access. We are a very rural county - even cell service is sketchy out here. We had to provide paper packets of lessons for those who did not have access to the internet despite our school system setting up hot spots around the county. As our time at home continued, more and more students opted to complete paper packets even though they had internet access previously. I feel like students and parents became tired of fighting internet issues as well as the accountability of completing the online assignments. I am disheartened by the lack of work completed by students (and work effort) as well as parents checking to make sure their kids were actually doing the work (just not taking their word for it).
If every student does not have internet access, I do not see how we can possibly begin to teach our curriculum next year. We cannot teach thru paper packets. Students will have to get online and view our live lessons or watch recorded videos of the lesson and make an effort to learn. Parents will have to hold their children accountable. Saying, ""I can't make him/her do the work"" cannot be an option like it was this year. "

Sean, middle school teacher, Athens, says:

"Nearly all of our cellular phone, cable, digital networks of every kind have the capabilities to create personal wifi hot spots for users. If these companies cannot see how it is part of their responsibility to provide these wifi hot spots free of charge in moments of crisis in our country, then maybe it is time to nationalize cellular phone services in the US to make things more equal."

Sally, high school teacher, Chamblee, says:

"My English Language Learners face the most difficult challenges. Some are working- loading boxes on truck for Amazon and others are working with parents in landscaping. Many have a large family and no reliable internet. While we have offered packets to families, many parents won't let their students go to the school to pick them up. Some students who have reported to me that they have reliable Internet are not engaging in the assignments. As of right now I'm focusing on connecting to my students and making sure they are okay. I'm hoping these conversations and connecting with my colleagues will lead us to develop some creative solutions."

Alice, elementary school teacher, Cairo, says:

"I teach ESOL (English to Speakers of Other Languages) to 70 students. After doing a phone survey, only 2 or 3 had internet they could use to do schoolwork. It would be so beneficial for these students to be able to pick up where they left off using computer based learning programs they were already using at school. Also, without reliable internet, my students are not able to use the many free apps that are available to help them improve their English Proficiency. Our local library has set up an internet hotspot connection in a trailer park in which some of my families reside. I do not know how reliable it is. I do know that the range is not very good and that concerns me during this time in which we need to be ""socially distancing"". I would love someone to explain to me why internet is not a public utility and equal access given to all."

Denise, elementary school teacher, Marietta, says:

"The Cobb County School district is proud of the diligent means taken to connect students to their teachers and lessons for Digital Learning. The Cobb County Foundation conducted a financial drive and sought support from Partners in Education to provide personal technology devices to students impacted by the digital divide. Cobb is the Best Place to Teach, Lead and Learn. One Team, One Goal, Student Success"

Mary, elementary school teacher, Cornelia, says:

"The students I work with have emotional and behavioral challenges along with the challenge of the internet not being available. Before school was out, we were planning to plant flowers in school pots and studying life cycle of a plant. I decided to engage the students by mail with a daily routine they can follow. I mailed each student a packet with potting soil in a baggie, seeds (cantelope, watermelon, lettuce, beans...4/1$ ). Last week, one of the students said the seeds had grown so quickly he repotted from the cup to outside his window. We are sharing a garden, though each is in another location. The students are writing and drawing and measuring, while also getting outside each day. This is engagement."

Mary, elementary school teacher, Honolulu, says:

"Our Title I School Principal at Queen Kaahumanu Elementary School has been so supportive in advocating for equity in education. Our school program "One Chromebook One Family" enables our students and families to stay connected to our school. Teachers work closely with our IT Coordinator to call, email, text, and write to parents to reach them. We've helped parents to locate hot spots and to call Spectrum for free cable during this unprecedented time in the history of education. We are one team one Ohana and making a difference one day at a time. Our school also mails our content area curriculum Enrichment packets to all students to close the educational gap in student learning. My concerns for students left online is to continue to advocate for community partner help for the families."

Teacher, says:

"Please!! I am teaching from my livingroom and sending snail mail to my ELLs w/o tech or support. Let’s do this!!"

Cheri, high school teacher, Keokuk, says:

"Our schools were closed since March 16. In Iowa students were not required to do any of the work provided by teachers as most students did not have access to the Internet. Many had the devices to use (phones, laptops, chromebooks, etc.) but not a strong enough signal to download videos and/or classwork. Even myself living JUST 2 miles from the city limits with two satellites available to use I was not able to download videos and do anything interactive with Google classroom. I did my zoom meetings in my car on my phone by driving up the road to get better service! WE NEED FIBER OPTIC INTERNET SERVICE ASAP!"

Sam, high school teacher, Des Moines, says:

"I discovered that many of the families in the metro don't have internet and/or devices. The school district did a fantastic job of organizing and delivering supplies. For families that have never had internet of devices, helping them connect and get on has been a struggle. Some get so frustrated they give up. We need to find a way to bridge this divide, especially if we are going to be doing virtual learning in the future."

Cheri, high school teacher, Keokuk, says:

"This isn't just a problem for our students it is for staff as well. I live 2 miles from the city limits and I have 3 satellites but still my Internet is not strong enough to do videos and if I am not careful I will run out of service before the end of the time period. We need high speed, consistent Internet for the entire country."

Kristi, community college professor, Toddville, says:

"Remember that it isn't only students who are affected by lack of broadband access! My students would like to video conference with me but I don't have the bandwidth. I am not able to access their records to advise them because my internet rate doesn't support VPN.I feel for our students because if I need to do something sophisticated, I need to drive to a place where the fast internet is leaking out in to the parking lot and use their services (some of the buildings at my school fit this description). But working out of your car is hard and can also be cold or hot and it's a long way from a bathroom!"

Sam, elementary school teacher, Ottumwa, says:

"Several of the students in my district are either without or have limited connectivity. In today's interactive and technology dependent learning environments, this creates a greater divide between the haves and have nots. These limitations for so many students deepen the inequity in education. We have migrant families living in multi-family dwellings with parents who work long shifts at packing plants with their older children assisting in raising the younger with limited or no educational resources available. Educational equity involves providing the necessary resources for all who, by law, attend and seek equal opportunity public education."

Laura, high school teacher, Greenville, says:

"We are a small rural school district that covers over 200 square miles. We have MANY students who do not have reliable internet or cell phone service where they live. Currently, most of our connection with these students is with our meal delivery service that also provides printed lessons. At the moment, there is no way for these students to turn in their lessons, since printed copies are not being accepted due to health risks involved in passing papers between households and school employees. There have been no teacher parades or any of this type of connection because our police department has advised against it. In order to connect, we've also made phone calls, sent emails, and have used Remind. I am also concerned for our IEP students who are not receiving the full services they need in order to learn and succeed. Lack of technology exacerbates this problem since teachers are unable to communicate with some students who have the highest needs. Thank you so much for reaching out and asking us about these huge obstacles that keep the rural poor away from much needed resources. The rural poor are undeserved and forgotten by most policymakers."

Tara, elementary school teacher, Melrose Park, says:

"It's been a challenging month switching to e-learning. I am missing 25% of my class because not all of my students have access to technology. They may have cell phones, but they don't have Internet access to the abundance of online resources available to schools right now. That puts them at a disadvantage because their fellow classmates are able to watch educational videos or play educational games, while they're just completing worksheets I give them. Our superintendent had to ask for permission from the state government to allow teachers to enter the schools in order to prepare learning packets for our students. We are going to school every 2 weeks in order to provide work for our students who can't complete their learning online. Luckily, my parents do have cell phones. I am able to use Remind to send messages to my students' parents via text. We're able to still communicate during the time away from school. At least there's one method I'm able to still connect to my families. I grieve over the lost opportunity to learn. In the end, distance learning doesn't replace the live interactions I have between my students and me. I miss our experiments, our conversations, our connections. The technology I am able to use like Zoom allows me to only connect with some of my students, not all. I miss them terribly, and I cannot wait to see them in person. The next best thing is the ability to see them virtually, and I don't have the pleasure of seeing all my kids online during a most vulnerable time in our country's history."

Jen, elementary school teacher, Mount Prospect, says:

"When our district ran out of portable hotspots, a neighboring district donated extras to us. Our Superintendent hand-delivered them to families. School communities are better together, and the best leaders lead by example."

Hauron, teacher, Chicago, says:

"I think the worst moment of teaching while under quarantine was when one of my students apologized to me for submitting his weekly essays late and then went on to explain how he and his younger siblings share a single laptop and he only uses it after they've fallen asleep."

Jo, elementary, middle, and high school teacher, Yorktown, says:

"We have both students who do not have any Internet, and students who have slow Internet (satellite). We have purchased some T-Mobile hotspots to distribute to those students who do not have any connectivity at all. We have changed how we deliver videos to all of our students, posting everything to YouTube instead of embedding videos. Under testing we have found that embedding those videos on pages (which is the preferred method) creates a lot of problems without high speed Internet. This takes our teachers a lot more time and is more work than previous methods, but in order to provide as much equity as possible, this has become our method. I am the district tech coach and I live in a rural area which also does not have any high speed Internet possibility. I have been able to do my job, but zoom meetings or anything streamed have become problematic for me with my slow Internet. Students and teachers who do not have access to broadband are at a much greater disadvantage than those that do. They spend much more time completing tasks at their homes or are forced to drive to parking lots of businesses/schools where they can connect! It's time to close this gap!"

Maria, high school teacher, Paoli, says:

"I teach in a rural area in Indiana. We are fortunate in that largely due to casino funds and some technology grants, our schools are 1:1 with all students have school-issued Chromebooks. However, there are still students without access. In a normal situation, kids sometimes go to a neighbor or relative's house or hang out at a restaurant or the public library to access wi-fi. In a time of social distancing, this does not work. The school parking lot is available, but transporation is an issue for many as well. Most of the students who are unable to access consistently or at all are also disadvantaged in other ways. The students in my classes who are having the most trouble are students of low socio-economic status, many of whom have IEP's and have a more difficult time dealing with obstacles to learning. Daily, I receive e-mails from companies offering free distance learning materials, but most of it we can not use because not all students have access. We mostly have relied on documents we can post on Google Classroom. We gave paper packets to a handful of students who contacted us about no access. The digital divide puts many students at a disadvantage during this already stressful situation (usually on top of other disadvantages), but in the bigger picture, it is a problem all the time."

Terri, elementary school teacher, Ferdinand, says:

"Students who do not have internet access or who have limited access are significantly behind their peers who do have access. We have been connecting by phone as much as possible, and our principal has put together pick up and drop off boxes for paper work. However, students are missing out on critical lessons. It is also difficult to give those students more immediate feedback."

Kelly, elementary school teacher, Huntingburg, says:

"I live in a rural area. We have two issues with internet. One issue is that students don't have quality internet, so streaming videos is an issue. We have to shorten the length of instruction to accommodate. The other issue is students without access to internet. Unfortunately, the students without internet are students who already struggle. This is setting them further behind. We have been checking in with the these students and reaching out to them, but attention and focus are issues in communicating with them on the phone. I am super concerned with them getting even further behind."

Jana, special education teacher, Taswell, says:

"I am a Special Education teacher. Many of my students do not have a device or the Internet. Many do only own a parent's cell phone, which is not always available for a student to use and not all online schooling works on phones. We live in a very rural part of the state; our students are very spread out. Those with Internet often have limited data and it is very expensive. Due to the lack of devices and Internet, out school is sending home paper packets for elementary student to complete.Because of the lack of consistent access, teaching elementary students for the rest of the school year has stopped. There are teachers who are still trying to connect to their kids using Zoom, Facebook, or Google, but they will not be able to reach every student. The students that need the most contact and help will be the ones we can't reach out to digitally."

Gretchen, parent, Overland Park, says:

"I'm a parent, not a teacher. I am grateful for the experience of educating my students at home right now. I'm in a 1:1 digital learning district and have opted not to use iPads for my 4th graders since they brought them home last month. I understand the equity issue you're trying to address, however why isn't protecting children from more media and screen use your main objective?"

Allison, teacher, says:

"Literally sitting here turning off WiFi on devices so my daughter can log into blackboard and I can be on my webinar for my district. She’s in tears. I’m frustrated. If it was a school day for my son.... one of us would have to miss something. #stressed Even in my household we are trying to figure out how my middle school son will do his work, my college freshman will do her’s, and I will teach my students on the bandwidth we currently have. I drop calls just by standing in the wrong place. It’s a problem for people everywhere."

Ashley, elementary school teacher, Berea, says:

"My biggest concern are most of the families and children that do not have either wifi or a device are often the families that need the most help. Many of my students that have social emotional needs, live in foster care or they are in a household with an environment that struggles to maintain a healthy emotional state are the ones that are suffering the most. My students that you have technology and participate are very lonely and are struggling to connect with friends. although I want them to maintain their academics, I find myself asking have you talked to your friends today and how can I help you with that? I have also started weekend challenges for engineering and Legos that the entire family camp partake. I have made calls and scheduled zoom calls for some of my students that need extra support. I have been having more success with asking kids to make videos for me and making a school YouTube channel. But again, my students who need the most support are the ones typically without internet or devices."

Rhonda, teacher, Louisville, says:

"I started a charity to close the gap for children with NTI needs, Families with connection needs, & our neighbors needing assistance to file for assistance at home. @ProjectTechdriv is not just closing the tech divide, but partnering with other orgs to bring resources and support."

Rodney, youth development and education specialist, Louisville, says:

"A couple weeks after COVID-19 impacted us all an initiative by Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) began where students who were free/reduced lunch were eligible to receive a Chromebook. The Louisville Urban League helped to sign up over 200+ students to receive one of the 25,000 Chromebooks available. After a few weeks we found out that one of our students, a 4th Grader, wasn't eligible. We called JCPS and found out that parents had to complete a free/reduced lunch application to qualify, so the student's mother did that but still, no Chromebook. Ultimately, it was determined by the system that our student couldn't receive a Chromebook, but there was no specific reason at all why this was the case. LUL made phone calls to the Superintendent of JCPS, and seventeen minutes after that call ended a Chromebook was set to be mailed to the family. The following day an LUL employee picked up the Chromebook and personally delivered it to the family. Now the student is catching up on their Non-Traditional Instruction (NTI) with no issues! If it wasn't for this Chromebook opportunity the student would have been forced to learn through non-culturally competent packets of school work, or even learning through a video game system, which is something that could help but is not a first priority for any parents seeking growth for their child's learning and overall growth."

Kish, director of education policy and programming, Louisville, says:

"We have assisted many families in procuring devices and/or wifi access. Our school district (Jefferson County Public Schools) distributed 25,000 chromebooks to eligible families (i.e., free and reduced lunch, ECE & ESL). There were issues with getting the devices to families as they were sent by mail with a signature required. Only one Chromebook could be issued to a household, so some of our families are struggling with sharing one device amongst multiple kids—not to mention all of the kids still in need of a device who do not qualify and those who do not have access to wifi. Here in Louisville, almost 70% of Black and Brown students did not score proficient on state testing last year, so we have many concerns about what the academic outlook will be moving forward. COVID-19 has exposed and exacerbated the inequities in education in our school system and our nation."

Mary, middle school teacher, Chelmsford, says:

"In order to salvage the personal relationships that teachers and students share in person, I make every effort to connect online. When an email comes in, I answer. It can be 10am or 1am. If they want to voice chat, that’s what we do. If they need to see my face and see me just as vulnerable as they are, I show them my true self. Kids need a teacher that is willing to be vulnerable; a teacher that teaches them empathy not only by saying but also doing. Online teaching forces the best and worst of teachers; we must model the values we want our children to carry through life. As my academic advisor once said: 90% of teaching is building long lasting relationships. 10% is everything else."

Michele, elementary school teacher, Boston, says:

"My students are preschool, K-1 and we have faced many challenges in distance learning. I had never used any online learning material and had to learn everything as fast as could. I did not have a working camera on my laptop and had to wait over six weeks to get a new one and it such low quality I can not do much teaching with it. Many parents do not have access to devices for younger learners, children are using a single device for the entire family. This means that older siblings have priority for school work. Some families have only a smart phone. My families are also mainly immigrants with limited English skills so we have had to translate instruction for logging on to platforms. We have had great success with Class Dojo and Epic Books and Boston's UPK program has given children access to an online math program Building Blocks. I continue to be concerned about children who have not utilized these resources, I know that access is the reason families can not do the work. "

Jane, elementary school teacher, Burlington, says:

"Overnight, I was expected to be able to create learning materials that could be uploaded on website for students to access. I am not familiar with many of the intricacies of this process. I felt frustrated in the beginning, not knowing what and how was expected of me, but looking back now, I feel proud and accomplished not only for rising to the occasion, but also being empathetic to parents who were struggling with accessing assignments and submitting them online. This empathetic understanding enabled me to be there for them every step of the way. There have been times, I have been on phone explaining step by step to a parent how to login and access website and assignments. I have reached out to parents and students via phone, text email Dojo text so on."

Lisa, middle school teacher, Montgomery County, says:

"With the lack of access to internet, students are not able to login and complete assignments, attend zoom teacher sessions, and connect with their friends in their classes. This is devastating as they are already stressed out with this whole situation, and now they are going to be behind in their classwork and feel even more overwhelmed when they can finally access the internet and their assignments online. I have been emailing students and their parents and calling home, but some of the parents have not answered so I have forwarded their information to my schools guidance counselor to follow up. I did speak with parents who said they have no idea how to get internet or chomebooks, and our county luckily is putting them in touch with ways to get those necessary resources, but it will take some time. I am highly concerned about my students who cannot get on, more for their mental health. I want the very best for my students and have so much love for them which is why I am a huge advocate of nationwide free internet for all!"

Jessica, elementary school teacher, Baltimore, says:

"Where I live we don’t have access to high speed internet - Comcast quoted our neighbor it would cost us $30,000 to lay a line - yet just down the road houses have it. So many where I live use hotspots (which is shaky), satellite ($$$$) or DSL (snail)."

Becky, special education teacher, Edgecomb, says:

"Several of the families in our school of 106 students do not have any opportunity for internet in their homes. Several others have unreliable internet. Our school is in a relatively rural Maine community.We know the lines run through our town, but many of our houses don't get access because they are on a sparsely populated side road. One our other paraprofessionals doesn't have internet even though the houses on either side of her do. She can't do distance teaching from her home so she is forced to either drive to our school or sit in the parking lot of a business that offers free wifi. We need to fix this problem ASAP!"

Laura, middle school teacher, Waldoboro, says:

"For the most part students have access to the internet. I would say 95% of our students have internet. The biggest issue I am seeing and hearing is that parents don't want to fight with their kids to do school work. As a school counselor, when I hear this, I can't help but think what other argument is worth having with your son or daughter then their school work. Education is an argument worth having."

Michelle, elementary school teacher, Kennebunkport, says:

"We live in a semi-rural/suburban area. Our networks are of varying quality. It is extremely frustrating and counterproductive to have a student sharing struggles only to freeze up or lose connection. Our grade 1-5 students were allowed to access their chromebooks for this distance learning period. Our district is at the forefront of offering distance learning. However, it is a challenge for all. The challenges of bringing students together online while maintaining their confidentiality have not yet been surmounted. Teachers and counselors have recently been allowed to call. We also utilize our school resource officer to check on students from whom we have not heard. Students with working parents, multiple siblings, parents who are not technologically proficient, or in situations involving neglect or abuse are at significant risk of falling behind peers in new ways."

Paige, elementary school teacher, Sterling Heights, says:

"Distance learning amplified the inequities in our communities. Some families had one cellphone for multiple students to share in order to do their school work. Some families had one laptop provided by the parents employer and the students were only able to complete their school work when the parent was finished with work for the day. Many students completed assignments on the weekend and very late into the evening, some as late as 1:30 am because that was the only time they had access to a device."

Trish, high school special education teacher, Ravenna, says:

"I live in a rural area with limited broadband availability. I myself have spent countless hours on the phone trying to get any of the national carriers (Verizon, Sprint) to support my laptop at home via a hotspot on my phone or tablet. Neither carrier can provide reliable connectivity strength. Many days I cannot open email on my computer due to lack of connectivity. I use my personal phone and data plan to connect with my students. To date I have spent $360 on my data plan for myself and my children. My kids are not interested in waiting for a video to buffer and my middle schooler feels isolated and forgotten because he cannot participate in the Google Meets or Zoom meetings held by his teachers and friends. This is a heartbreaking scenario on all ends. Please Congress consider the how this widens the gap further for the "have nots." It is a civic injustice!"

Sheronne, special education teacher, Southfield, says:

"I teach technology and I teach 212 kids on a rotation basis daily. With schools being closed and not everyone having access to laptops or chromebooks, many of the students aren’t completing the work I’m assigning. Because some of them are likely using their phones or tablets I can’t assign keyboarding, because they don’t have a keyboard. Some parents aren’t working so many of the emails I send might be going to a work email, but they may not be there to read it. Though our district loaned a few families chromebooks, some didn’t bother trying to borrow one because they don’t have Internet access at home. All of these things are expensive for many and most rely on the use of these things at school. Whatever help Congress or anyone can give to our students would be greatly appreciated. Only approximately 50% of my students are doing the work I’m assigning. This is not good. In the fall, they will be so far behind. We need all the help we can get."

Kathy, middle school teacher, Roscommon, says:

"For my students who have no internet access, they receive paper copies of all assignments. In order for me to give them credit, they have to take pictures of every page and text them to me or I have to call them and have them verbally report their answers."

Lynn, elementary, middle, and high school teacher, says:

"It's not enough to have Internet. Low-income students in families with multiple children do not have the computing resources to make learning available for all kids in the family. The eldest will take the family's single device for class and long hours of homework, leaving the elementary and junior high siblings without access to online learning."

Stu, middle school teacher, Savage, says:

"Many of our students lacked devices at home, or the homes didn't have enough devices to support all children living there. Our school took in donated computers and refurbished them with Linux and free open source software. Then, we gave the computers away to families who expressed a need. To date, we have given away 58 laptops at a cost of about $800.00, mostly for batteries. It made all the difference."

Kyle, director of technology, Grain Valley, says:

"We have provided many hotspots to both our staff and our families that need them, and a huge thanks to Source for Learning in partnering with us to do that but we have not been able to get enough due to demand being so high. Our district still has some more rural areas where broadband service does not reach sadly. Our families only have access to home services such as Century Link, and the connection bandwidth is very poor. One of the things we are actively working on to help, since getting more hotspots is not an option, is to install outdoor rated access points on the exterior of certain buildings in our district so a family could at least travel to a school and remain in their car and get connected to our network. It is sad that we have so many students without access to a quality broadband connection at home in this day and age, especially now with schools being closed. It's a real equity issue that now has the spotlight shined on it more than ever."

Lisa, school administrator, says:

"In our school district about 20% do not have go internet access at home but if you ask many of them they say "yes we have internet access" but this access is on their phone with a small screen, limited data packages and not easily shared with a student or students in the household to complete proper online learning. Based on assessments from COVID-19 experience it is looking to be about 50% or MORE of our students to not have the internet capabilities they need at home for online learning. This gets to the whole point of 1-on-1 and what is the point of it if we send them home with a chromebook or other wi-fi type device that they cannot use because the have limited or no data access or if they have it, the speed is terrible. This virus (or another one like it or worse) will crop up and schools will be expected by our communities to be prepared to continue the learning process more seamlessly... this is much more important than many of these bailouts of cruiselines, etc. that will most likely take priority over our next generation. I urge you to please stay the course especially for those living in rural America."

Melissa, elementary school teacher, St. James, says:

"We are a 1:1 iPad school. However with the lack of rural internet access, we have not sent devices home. We have had to post our AMI in the local paper. Teachers are calling students to check in, however not all can be reached. My job as intervention specialist has been especially hard because I help those students with reading difficulties. Many of my students parents also have reading issues. Assignments posted in a newspaper are not a substitute for what I teach small group. If I was able to continue to meet with my students online, we would be able to practice reading strategies. I am so worried about my students and where they will be when we return to school. I don’t think that our rural schools should be deprived of the learning opportunities that more densely populated areas have currently. Please make internet access a reality for all."

Sherry, high school special education teacher, St. Joseph, says:

"We have several students, even on my (special ed) caseload of only 10, who are not able to access wifi regularly. Parents tried to get it set up, but the price changed and was prohibitive, students had depended on fast food places and workplaces to access wifi but that is no longer available with the shutdowns for Covid-19. Some have hot spots but those are (evidently) undependable for Zoom lectures or they run out of data minutes."

John, elementary, middle, and high school teacher, Lewistown, says:

"Our district is a rural district that encompasses a large geographic square mileage that spans 5 different counties in Northeast Missouri. We have over 25% of our students without internet availability to their homes - that’s right, it is not available. Cell phone coverage is very spotty and many of the main carriers don’t offer service for our people. There just aren’t providers to get internet from in our area. If you can’t access it through the local telephone company, then you have to hope a cell phone company can provide a hotspot that will work. If that doesn’t work, satellite internet is an option at an extremely high cost & it gets throttled way down once you hit so much data usage, not to mention that it is extremely lacking for upload speeds, so video conferencing isn’t possible. The rural parts of the country need to have internet availability & it must be affordable for everyone regardless of their location."

Heather, teacher, says:

"This current situation has only highlighted the inequity rural America faces due to lack of resources others take for granted. Lack of access to information and tools from home now means holding back equal opportunities, equal access to education in this century."

Amy, district administrator, Lake Ozark, says:

"Our tech department has worked so hard to help our families during this time. We are deploying 7 school buses with mobile hotspots to key locations to make it easy for families. They are able to pick up breakfast, lunch, and a snack while they have access to the wifi. We have also made the wifi and meal pickup option available in our school parking lots. We are also sending materials for families on the buses like paper copies, library books, etc. We have been fortunate to receive some hotspots that we have been able to check out to families. Our bus drivers and cooks have worked very hard to make all of this happen."

Karen, middle school teacher, Gulfport, says:

"I use Google Classroom to deliver assignments from Newsela and Commonlit. For those students that do not have internet accessibility or computers, we have distribution days, and I provide the hard copies of the same assignments to them. It is harder to track what they are doing or don't understand because they can only give me the work packets back on the distribution days and it takes longer to give feedback."

Sonya, high school teacher, Raleigh, says:

"I prefer the digital divide and feel my child is safer without access to the internet, at least until his executive functioning skills and moral development have matured. Schools should think of our children's safety as their #1 priority and that includes online safety. Schools should send parents links to pages to print off for our kids to work on or secure applications that can be downloaded and worked in off line mode. Instead of buying devices for our kids, why not lease text books that we can get from the schools in print? The interface for online learning is WAY too distracting for my adhd child. Society really needs to think about how online learning isn't suitable for most youth, especially where there is little supervision because teachers have to teach 30 kids or both parents have to work. Screen addiction is also very real and destroys families."

Angela, elementary school teacher, Vale, says:

"Internet access is not very well Spectrum needs to move up into the Vale area. There are a lot of people out here that could use their services, because the satellite Internet and the telephone Internet services are not good enough. They don’t provide a strong enough signal. It is hard to teach with a lot of buffering going on."

Jeanna, middle school teacher, Lawndale, says:

"30-40% of the 734 students we teach do not have access to high-speed internet... for many it is because it is not offered where they live. Yes - we are in the foothills of North Carolina but we are not that far out in the country that it can not be made available. People have asked for it but the companies will not take it down their roads. It is crazy. The students who need the online instruction the most are not getting it. We have enough chromebooks for all of our students - we were not sending them home before the virus... but now we are. The students who have access are getting the instruction. We have so many without - it is bad when education deepens the great divide by the haves and the have nots. For some of ours it is not a case of - they cannot afford it... it is that high speed internet is not available."

Sara, elementary school teacher, Macon County, says:

"I have several students who do not have internet or devices at home. They have not been able to connect to our google classroom. Out of the 46 students in my block, only 10 have been able to access our google classroom."

Rachael, middle school teacher, Knightdale, says:

"We are the only Title 1 Middle School in our very large district. We contacted every student at our school to find out if they had internet and a computer for students to use. We then set up a device pick up for all students needing devices. We also gave out information on internet companies who were willing to provide free service during this time. The county has also purchased hot spots that we will be giving out. We have had deliveries for families that could not pick them up. The problem is time. Our other students have been online and utilizing resources and completing work. It is just taking time to get all of our kids set up and working. I am concerned about the loss of learning but also the isolation and stress that my 11 year old students are dealing with. Adolescence is a tough time and their peers are very important to them. I am doing my best with online meetings where they have the opportunity to see each other and talk."

Jessyca, elementary school teacher, Aberdeen, says:

"Our school is posting videos with messages of love from the staff on Class Dojo as we have almost 100% of our parents logged into that. We have school drive through sites were students can get meals. We call and text our kids and offer Google Meets with those that have internet access. The struggles are that not every child has internet or a device. We are a K-2 school and are not 1:1. Our students miss their friends and teachers. They are working on learning packets because of lack of devices/internet. Connectivity would allow us to reach all of our students. I am concerned about those students that cannot attend Google Meets and at least see their teachers and friends. Those students may be feeling isolated and alone. They do not get to read and we have so many reading resources that they could be utilizing. It is heartbreaking thinking of the students that do not have digital access during this time."

Nena, elementary school teacher, Maxton, says:

"As a rural second grade teacher it's just common knowledge that you will have two to three students without internet. I have one student that goes to a relative's house and uses their internet to get their work done."

Tammy, elementary and middle school teacher, Hickory, says:

"I am the school library media coordinator at an elementary school. Our 6th graders participates in the K64 digital initiative started by our country commissioners, community college, and three surrounding school systems (Catawba County, Hickory City, and Newton-Conover). This is the only grade in my school where students take home chromebooks each day. When the stay at home order came, our school distributed over 250 chromebooks to families who did not have one at home to use. In addition, so many of our families did not have Internet access. A local internet company offered free interent service to our families but this will come to an end on May 30th. Our families need internet access every day so the children can continue their learning during the summer and next school year. In addition, our families need devices at home and not just at school. The digital divide must end! Before our students can be successful 21st digital citizens, they must have resources both and home and at school."

Stephanie, elementary and middle school teacher, Goldston, says:

"I am an ESL teacher between two K-8 schools in North Carolina. I have some students who are almost at the same level of English proficiency as their native-speaker classmates. I have some students who have only lived in the United States for a few years, and still struggle to listen, read, write, and speak in English. I also have those students who are somewhere between struggling with English and proficient. These children already have a disadvantage in the home/school communication because most of their parents do not speak English. Many of my students either don't have internet, only have a spotty cell phone data hotspot, or are sharing wifi with a large household. Many of them have parents who have no idea how to help them at home with the technology or the lessons. Many of them have parents who have to work during the day to make sure their needs are met. I have been reaching out to those who do not have reliable internet connection through helping with meal distribution, texts, and phone calls. However, none of these communication pathways seem to be sufficient to make sure the students are getting what they need academically. Our county is also planning on using CDs and CD players for those students who do not have internet. However, we have not been given these CDs/CD players yet, and it is already the end of April! Speaking is a language area that will really suffer during this time for children who don't have internet access. If a student has internet and a device, he or she can respond by voice recording, video, or be a part of video calls. If a student does not have internet access, that student will probably not speak English until school resumes. Yet, we teachers will be expected to make sure that they grow in their English proficiency by next year. I am very concerned for my handful of students who do not have internet access at this time. Those without internet are the children who need daily contact with their teacher in order to grow. Internet would make learning for these children equitable and possible."

Evelyn, high school teacher, Kinston, says:

"One creative solution that I have pursued for some of our students was to help them get devices and internet asses. After calling students finding out their situation; I talked to my principal about it and he followed up on my concerns. He went and found hot spots, took them to their houses so they would have access to internet. He also delivered devices to many so they could do their school work. Furthermore, I have answered calls, texts and email requests after my regular school hours, like nine o'clock at night, to help students succeed in their endeavor to learn and be promoted in spite of what's going on."

Mary, parent, says:

"Mi niño necesita una computadora. Está muy atrasado en las clases. Realmente no es mi hijo. Yo lo recibí al niño en la casa junto con su papá y al no tener quien lo cuide yo hago la función de su mamá. Es un niño muy inteligente y muy buena aprobación en la escuela. El papá trabaja y él está conmigo todo el día en casa. Lo trato de distraer poniéndolo a leer, a dibujar, juego con él un rato y otro rato tiene el permiso de mirar la tv...pero realmente no tiene computadora para sus tareas. Ya se lo hice saber a su maestra y trabajadora social. Hasta el día de hoy no me responden...así que si está a su alcance ayudarlo. Se los agradezco mucho."

Jodi, elementary, middle, and high school teacher, Belfield, says:

"In rural ND, everything seems to be challenging! I live in SW ND, in the beautiful badlands (over an hour to get to the closest Walmart). I drive 45 minutes one way to get to my K-12 school. We have one option for a Internet-HughesNet. Upon learning we’d have to teach from home, I upgraded to the highest plan...at a ‘discounted rate’ of $129. After holding meetings with my students 3 days-45% of my internet was used. I also have 3 children of my own, trying to get online and ‘distance learn’. A junior, a 4th grader, and a 2nd grader. Our solution to ‘meetings’ have been to make multiple trips throughout the day to the "top of the hill", where we get more than one bar of cell phone service. It’s been interesting to say the least..holding class from the top of a hill in the middle of nowhere in my car. My husband and I decided just the other day to invest in an ‘in home booster’ -at a cost of over $1100, so hopefully I can at least stay home and meet with my students through my cell phone. I’ve contacted the governor’s office, and although they were very kind, they couldn’t offer any solutions to our unique situation. My concern is that I’m not doing ‘enough’ for my students, and that my own children are missing out on their educational experiences because we just can’t be online all day."

Liz, school administrator, Litchville, says:

"We have a telephone coop called DRN, Ellendale, ND. They stepped up right away and offered free router installation and two months of FREE internet to families who didn't have it. Within three days, they had them installed and up and ready for our families!"

Ashley, elementary school teacher, Broken Bow, says:

"The digital divide definitely hinders our kiddos. We sent Chromebooks or laptops home for 3rd-12th grade, but that doesn't mean a kiddo can use the device (no Internet access or spotty access).The district added two hotspots in town, but some of our kiddos don't even have a way to reach those because of transportation issues, etc. Education is supposed to level the playing field. Students shouldn't be punished or "left behind" because of circumstances beyond their control. In education, ALL means ALL."

Ashley, elementary school teacher, Bath, says:

"The only internet access we have available at our home in Bath NH is satellite (which is not affordable, not reliable and has cap off amounts of usage which does not work for steaming with remote learning) and hotspot cell coverage which when using it for remote learning is not affordable either when you are paying for all usage (it isn’t unlimited!). Connectivity is poor and learning is difficult which does not set a good ground for education."

Barbara, parent, Hanover, says:

"As a parent with children finishing up grades, 2, 7, 11 and Jr. in college, we really struggle with our slow internet speed and unstable, unreliable connection. We are in the minority in our town. Comcast skipped some streets like us. Only 1 person can be on Zoom at a time, everyone else off of the internet, even then Zoom may not work. I had to tell my 2nd grader to miss an interesting Zoom call with a guest for his project bc his brother's college class was more important. Help please!! It's even worse if my husband works from home or I need to use my email."

Elke, elementary school teacher, Bethlehem, says:

"I teach first grade at a small rural school in northern New Hampshire. When schools closed due to the pandemic, we only sent worksheet packages home to students to give us time to come up with remote learning activities. Since then, my students are required to submit work on Seesaw, and also spend 15 minutes each on Headsprout and Happy Numbers. We sent the iPads that had been in my classroom home to students. Unfortunately, the devices are more than 10 years old and do not support many of the apps we needed. Also, many of our parents only use their phones to connect to the internet because they can't afford tablets or laptops. Their phones are their personal computers. It's been very challenging for the parents and my students to complete work and I've already seen a big downhill slide in my students' academic performance."

James, parent, Elmer, says:

"Verizon has refused repeatedly to upgrade the five southern Counties in New Jersey leaving my family and thousands of others in dire straights to get high speed internet."

Donna, elementary and middle school teacher, Beverly, says:

"Many of our students are in Section 8 housing, apartments. or live with relatives. Internet is not a priority, but neither is education for some families. Sadly this leaves a high portion of our students without internet. Even though Comcast offers it to families that qualify, some cannot get it due to previous balances, other household member who have cable in the residence, etc. It would be great if in our 1/2 square mile town if all kids could connect to the school's server."

Susan, high school teacher, Cuba, says:

"During this time of school closing many students live in remote places (reservation lands) where cell towers do not exist. Cell phone connection is a challenge as well as internet access. Those lack of resources pose more concerns for safety as well as equitable education opportunities in these remote areas."

Pamela, middle and sigh school teacher, Owyhee, says:

"Our school is on an Indian Reservation and roughly 70% of our students are at or below poverty level. Our entire school qualifies for free lunches. We are using Google Classroom for those few that have internet. The others pickup a packet of work when they drive through to pickup breakfast and lunch. Our school has such poor internet service that standardized testing crashes the system. Our school is 100 miles from the closest town in any direction. Broadband is a must, and help with getting these students device’s to use."

Gina, elementary school teacher, Churubusco, says:

"The lack of broadband internet access in rural areas severely affects administrators, teachers and students alike. When teachers do not have their own access and have to drive several miles just to get a strong enough cell signal to use the hotspot on their phone to connect the laptop for remote learning, or to conduct a Google Meet with students, we are not able to do our jobs efficiently and to the best of our ability. When families have to travel to a fire station miles away from home to use the school-provided wifi hotspot every evening after the parents come home from work just to get the remote learning assignments uploaded or downloaded, we add to the burden of families that are already under a significant amount of stress. We also bring to bear more tension in the relationship between families and school.
There are so many rallies saying so much has been done or excuses made for why it can’t be done. It’s time to simply say it MUST be done! Our children cannot thrive with an antiquated technology infrastructure. Our professionals cannot work remotely when their own location lacks the infrastructure needed to meet the expectations being placed upon them. This is not a poverty issue, although those in poverty seem to always be at a disadvantage. Our voices are not numerous enough to get the attention we deserve.
Thank you, Common Sense, for amplifying our voices and including the rural perspective in the national conversation."

Jamie, elementary school teacher, Plattsburgh, says:

"I am a speech therapist serving prek-5th grade in a very rural district that is the 5th largest geographically in the state. Lack of quality internet and/or devices across the region has prevented a high number of my students to go without this important therapy, having to rely on paper packets and phone calls instead. Communication is the basis of EVERYTHING we do and I am finding myself unable to successfully teach my students these crucial skills effectively. I am afraid of long-lasting consequences for these children."

Tammy, middle and high school teacher, Ellenburg Depot, says:

"Our school district is located in rural upstate New York about 15 minutes south of the Canadian border. Our district provides a breakfast, lunch and snack to every single student in the elementary, middle and high school every day. Since the pandemic began a group of dedicated staff have delivered over 700 meals every single week to each student. In many cases our students are food insecure and this is there only food made available to them.
In regards to technology our district is very limited on our options. We were having serious financial difficulties before the pandemic hit and now our future is uncertain. I would like to say that if we were a 1:1 device school it would have made our situation better but the truth of the matter is that reliable Wifi connections in our area is not available for most of our students. Actually, reliable cell phone service is spotty in many areas. If that was not enough many families do not have the financial capabilities to afford the services if they are available. To try to help the students to be successful we set-up free internet connections in three different towns across our district. Unfortunately, our district is very rural and there is no access to public transportation and some families do not have access to a reliable form of transportation.
For those students who can access technology we have set-up Google Classrooms to post assignments and help communicate through emails and Google Meets. Some teachers have set-up a weekly Google Meet time for students to answer questions and provide support. We have also created videos and tutorials and shared them with students to help with a wide range of concepts. Another step we have taken is to make phone calls to parents/guardians and students to make sure they have what they need to be successful. For those students who are unable to access the technology resources we have spent hours creating physical paper packets to send home so they can continue their education.
Our upcoming academic year is extremely uncertain. There is a high probability that we are going to experience crippling financial deficits which will force the district to make staff and program cuts that we can not afford to lose. In the end it is our children who will be denied the well-rounded education that they deserve; that the upper class are provided. The facts are is that education provides one of the most promising chances of upward mobility into a better social class. Our students are more then their current economic status. They are bright young individuals who have the potential to make something of themselves and be a positive change for society. Unfortunately, unequal opportunities in education may very well be denying us as a society their full potential."

Leslie, preschool, pre-K, and elementary school teacher, Ellenburg Depot, says:

"As a reading teacher in our district, I have found these past few months to be frustrating. I provide many Tier III intervention services that require direct instruction. Distance learning has put a halt to some of those services, and as a result those students have not made the necessary growth they would have made had we continued in school. In just one group in particular, made up of the most needy students, two out of the seven have reliable internet and a device to use. The other five students do not have the same access. To continue with direct instruction is impossible. I have been able to remain in contact with all of my students via telephone calls and parent emails, but this is no comparison to what I am able to get done with the two students I can see weekly in a Google Meet. Paper work packets were sent home monthly. Once each set of work packets were picked up, the work had to stay bagged in our gymnasium for two weeks before we were able to access our students' work. This made reteaching and correcting very challenging. Another challenge has been getting student work returned at all or completed well in a the time frame that was provided. The digital divide has furthered the gap between students who have access and those that do not.
My next concern is what will happen if this continues. We do not have the school budget to provide one-to-one devices to our students. Even if we were able to do that, large areas within our school district do not have high speed internet available. I am extremely concerned with my ability to connect with my students next year. Daily phone calls will have to be made to many homes to keep learning occurring. I worry about the stress on parents as they navigate this for much longer. I see how our students compare to those in neighboring districts who have one-to-one devices, and I feel that they are not afforded the same level of instruction they desperately deserve."

Casey, middle and high school teacher, Rochester, says:

"Our students in a low income area have school provided devices (chromebooks before this crisis) and we estimate that only 5% don't have internet at home--though Spectrum has been providing it for free and the school has passed that along to families. Yet I'm averaging about 16% participation, that includes parent contact. There is more to this issue than just lack of access. There is definitely a gap and it needs to be addressed but it is bigger than just lack of access."

Amy, elementary school teacher, Altona, says:

"There is a huge discrepancy when it comes to connectivity in our rural area. As a K-5 STEM teacher and a parent of two children in middle school and high school, I am seeing all sides of the issue. A local survey we conducted showed 25% of our faculty do not have adequate internet and could not participate in video conferencing from home, while nearly 50% of parents reported connectivity and/or data issues making it a hardship for them.
It is creating a tremendous divide, as students without internet are completing paper packets, while students with internet are able to access instructional videos and interactive lessons. As a teacher that incorporates technology into most of what I teach, it has been frustrating knowing that I cannot deliver content and conduct lessons through that medium out of fairness and respect to the students that cannot participate.
I must travel to a family member's home to upload files and videos for work and participate in Google Meets. My daughters' teachers are posting assignments in Google Classroom, but many are not including desperately needed instructional videos because either they don't have internet or realize so many of the students don't have access. How do you learn a foreign language, a band instrument, or math without a teacher showing you how?
We can't conduct daily chats or take attendance. And because of this, many kids are checking out and are not completing work.These children are going to be so far behind where they should be. This will affect students for years to come."

Maria, elementary school teacher, Altona, says:

"The number of students I am able to reach via technology is minimal. Internet access is not available to a large number of families due to geographic location, not because of economic status. Several colleagues do not have internet access and are unable to teach from home.
Our district does not have one-to-one devices for students. Several towns in our school district have set up free wifi spots, such as the parking lot of a volunteer fire station, for parents to bring their children to use their personal devices to complete assignments. Once a month packets containing paper copies of work are hand-delivered to students using school buses. Teachers are not able to check up on students regularly or give feedback in a timely manner. The thought of having to continue teaching in this manner is very concerning."

Kim, elementary school teacher, Brockport, says:

"My home is unfortunately located in an area that is not serviced by broadband internet in Holley, NY (Brockport Central Schools). As a teacher, in the same district, responsible for distance learning for my students with special needs, it is extremely frustrating to be at the mercy of a hotspot connection from my phone which may or may not be strong enough on a day to day basis to support what I need to do for my students and my job. Almost daily, I have had to take my hotspot and computer and drive into town to be closer to a cell tower, and sit in my car, just to participate in faculty meetings and upload instructional videos for students (this still doesn't always work). This country prides itself on education for all, but discriminates against those who choose to live in rural areas by not allowing the same educational opportunities to students, like my own, living in locations without broadband access. Regardless of the current crisis, it is imperative that all families have access to broadband internet services. We are not looking to stream movies or play video games. This is a necessity, not a luxury. We should not need to worry about whether our students will be able to learn each day either because they or their teacher does not have broadband internet service. It should not be a choice of whether we should move from the home that we built so we can function in today's connected world."

Clemencia, middle school teacher, New York, says:

"I teach at a public middle school located in West Harlem, NYC. We serve a diverse, low income and immigrant student population. Our school is a former Apple ConnectED recipient, therefore, our students have benefited from having a1:1 ipad in the classroom. It has helped them use it to support their academic and social growth. As teachers, we try to take advantage of professional development opportunities to effectively integrate various tech tools to make learning more meaningful and fun. NYC DOE is lucky to have an amazing group of folks who organize and run professional learning sessions around instructional technology for teachers and staff. Kudos to DIIT staff. Kudos to #DrewTeach educators who have also shared teaching sessions in tech integration. These two groups have built me for remote learning. I have grown so much from them. When our school closed the building because of Covid-19, we made the best efforts to distribute ipads to student families, however, not all were able to pick them up. NYC DOE has been doing a great job at sending ipads equipped with internet access to families who have needed one. We are grateful that our students have devices to work with. I do hope when we go back to school building, districts find a way to allocate funds to give students an ipad if their families cannot afford buying one."

Harry, high school teacher, West Chester, says:

"I was doing not so great with distance learning. Creative solutions I am deploying to help students to connect learning is by buying computers for everybody. Some of the struggles students have shared that the internet is not working. I am thinking about teaching and learning this upcoming school year with be different. It has made distance learning a challenge because of not to be able to access the internet. "

Cheryl, high school teacher, Hillsboro, says:

"I do not have internet access in my home. The cable company's line ends 3 houses down from mine. I have two children who are in high school, one of whom also takes college classes. We each have a laptop that we were taking to public wifi and our local library to do our work. But then our restaurants were closed, followed closely by the library. We can go to my mother's house, which is a 15-minute drive. We stay there all day, and are joined by my niece who is taking graduate classes online since her college closed. There are 4 of us drawing on the broadband connection in my mother's home. I can only work on posting school work for my students when I am there. It's all I can do to post assignments, check scores on online assignments, post grades to Progress Book, answer emails from parents, students, and administrators while at my mom's house for a few hours a day. I can't do any research or search for premade lesson plans. That would require being at my mother's house 24/7. My mother is 72 years old. If she gets sick or if one of us gets exposed, the option to go to her home to use the wifi is no longer available and I will have only my phone to use to connect to students. My kids will have to use their cell phones for hotspots for connectivity, and that doesn't work well for watching video tutorials, etc. It's a very slow and unreliable way to do work."

Laura, elementary and middle school teacher, Lakewood, says:

"Our school services students who mostly come from middle class families, so most have access to internet and working devices, but not all. And this is a very big concern. We do not want to leave anyone behind, so we have loaned out school devices to families who need them and given guidance to how they can access wifi, if they do not have it in their home (one solution is that public libraries are allowing cars to park in their parking lots and use their wifi). The bigger problem we are having though is teachers not having enough bandwidth on their home wifi in order to do what has been requested of them. Teachers are making lesson videos for the students to be able to access at any time and re-watch if needed but have found one link that we did not first consider: many teachers do not have a high speed connection at home, or enough bandwidth to upload the videos they are making."

Julie, middle school teacher, Chandon, says:

"While most of my students are able to connect, families with multiple children who all have class at the same time get frustrated since they or a sibling gets bumped off a meeting and needs to reconnect. Most of my online teaching is done with recorded videos so students can view when it is best for their home."

Elementary and middle school teacher, West Unity, says:

"How has lack of internet access made distance learning a challenge? Many of our students do not have computers at home let alone internet. They were not allowed to take their Chromebooks home. Those who did have a computer at home had trouble with passwords, as they had all been stored on their Chromebooks. Many parents communicated with me that their internet connection could not support the video links that I sent. Without internet it was necessary for me to make paper copies for my students. This is not the same as face to face learning. I was unable to provide the extra tips on how to do things. They could not see the videos further explaining things. I feel that we sort of tossed them into the water and said see if you can swim without ever being taught. Our school has instituted a delivery system to drop off packets and a way for students to return their completed work. (Which frankly I do not want to touch.) Our superintendent has wisely chosen to leave the returned packets in the bus garage for two weeks. Our superintendent has sent out phone messages to the household telling them that new packets will be dropped off and old ones can be picked up then. Our elementary principal has made phone calls to parents trying to encourage them to get their children working on school work. I have contacted all my parents with a system called DOJO. Not all parents are signed up there, so I have personally emailed those parents. I have communicated with so many parents through email and DOJO. Some days have been all day writing to my students and parents answering their questions, guiding them from afar on how to do an assignment or how to use the materials and send me pictures of their work. Those without computers, and internet I am unable to help them."

Eden, elementary school teacher, Moore, says:

"Our counsellor and Specials teachers have been making videos to help our students with their emotional and physical activity needs. Our school's bandwidth can't handle the amount of students accessing our school site."

Kirsten, elementary school teacher, Junction City, says:

"As a SAHM on welfare, I am increasingly worried about how my oldest (3rd grade) and my 5 year old (first timer) will be delving into distance learning. We are more than lacking the resources to carry out this year and on, not to mention the finances needed!"

Serenity, elementary school teacher, Beaverton, says:

"The internet access dilemma was heavily on my mind and when we found low cost access to the internet when covid first began I was so so relieved that we were as a nation connected no matter what. Our family felt comforted and more safe. We ordered a wifi hotspot, found a great offer for internet, and a compatible computer with needed accessories, and easy how to set up instructions. We did have a month delay in getting the hotspot though through the mail. We love this connect the gap for internet access to poverty impacted children and families going through this pandemic. And I forgot to mention one of the best things about this. We were able to save on the impact of technologies garbage on the environment by purchasing a low cost refurbished computer complete set-up compatible with computers and everything."

Amanda, elementary school teacher, Youngsville, says:

"My sons are grown up, but my husband and I are teachers that both work for the same district- I in one of 4 elementary buildings, and he in one of 4 middle school buildings. Our district is vast, with 4 K-12 attendance areas. One attendance area is in a city; the other 3 attendance areas are suburban/rural. The poverty rates in our district are vast. The attendance area where my husband and I work, consists of a small poor ""bedroom community,"" with very few employers still remaining in the area. Outside of the town, we are surrounded by farms and other rural residences, again most of them very blue collar to poor economically. In the attendance area where my husband and I work, all students receive free lunch due to the economics of our area. My husband and I live about an hour away from our school, in an area that has broadband Internet. Due to both of us working from home, we had to pay to upgrade our service in order to meet the need of the digital load in our home. Many of our colleagues, who live in the area of the attendance area, did not have access to reliable Internet, and needed to come to the school, only on their scheduled days so the building stayed underneath state requirements for capacity, with health and safety restrictions (masks at all times, sign in, temperature taking, no use of any room except your classroom and the bathroom), in order to access the Internet at the school building. The digital divide has been a humongous hurdle for our families and for educators.

Many of our families do not have access to Internet in their area, and even if they did, many would not be able to afford the bill. The local cable company offered bare bones basic surface to families during the pandemic, but most of the families do not have access to cable lines due to the rural nature of our area outside of the ""town."" Many families do not have cell phone plans that are unlimited in nature, so using cell phones for connectivity was not an option. The district is purchasing Mi Fi's for families, but these only will work in areas that have a strong and reliable AT&T cell phone signal. Many many families live far enough out from the town, (and we have mountains in this area as well) that they do not have a reliable AT&T cell phone signal. Our district has been able to offer devices to families that had access to the Internet/cell phone signal for Mi Fi's. But so many many families do not have access to the Internet services to be able to use a device during this school closure.

It has been very frustrating. We utilized Zoom meetings, which allowed parents/students to be able to call in to access instruction, but due to many families having limited ""pay-as-you-go"" cell phone plans, some were not able to participate in these. As you can imagine, our district went through a great deal of paper in creating packets for offline students, while we prepared similar materials digitally using Microsoft Teams. As a special education teacher, engaging families and students was very difficult, especially for those who did not have access to digital technology. Helping students who needed learning support over the phone for students with less severe disabilities was a doable task. But helping students with emotional support needs or those students who are on the autistic spectrum, was nearby to impossible.
We have been doing all that we can do to try to keep kids from falling behind, and keeping them and their families engaged in learning. But it was exceptionally harder to engage families that were not connected digitally, versus those who were connected. A lot of families just gave up altogether on completing work, for many reasons: Some parents were essential workers who were still working their jobs and attempting to help kids with work in the evenings, some parents had difficulty in helping their child with the academics involved in the work, some parents had their hands full with multiple children, and trying to balance large families with students on multiple levels, just became too much for them to deal with. It has been a constant flux of flexibility for teachers as we morphed and shifted to become all that we could to assist families-- our work day extended far in to the evening, and we completed multiple phone calls, Zoom meetings, emails, and Teams virtual meetings/ communications throughout the day as we shifted from small group teaching, to one-on-one instruction. My days usually began at 9am, when the students who were at home with a parent were done with breakfast and ready to work, and didn't end some nights until after 8pm, as I worked with students who were staying in at home care with friends or families while their parents worked. We kept daily logs of all parent conversations and work sessions so as to potentially shield ourselves from future lawsuits; to prove that we did as much as we could possibly do to meet the needs of our students and their individual family needs during the closures. I am tired, but so very proud of our district and what we have been able to accomplish to do the best that we could, in the situation and community of learners and families that we have.
Summer school for special education students has had to be planned for digitally or with packets/teleservices for those who are offline. Many parents have opted out of ESY services because they are just done with trying to balance their own work, and virtual schoolwork, in whatever form exists. We are expecting a significant gap in regular education, and our teachers are already planning to shift their beginning of the year instruction to include concepts and standards that were not able to be taught at the end of this school year. In Special Education, we are expecting an exponential slide for some students, with major losses of skills and abilities, especially for those students whose families disengaged from the learning process and those who denied speech, physical therapy, and occupational therapy teleservices.
We are using the last two weeks of our school year to plan virtual instruction for the next school year, and are frantically working in professional development to set up a digital framework for virtual learning that will look much differently in the fall. As many options as possible for attempting to connect families are being addressed and items being purchased to do whatever we can to try to make things happen. But living in an area with mountains, spotty cell phone service, no broadband lines to so many families, lower income families who still have to work, no income families who don't have access... the list of challenges will make you cry if you sit and think about them too long. We are doing what we can, with the population and the community that we have. But our worries are long, and we see the divide between the ""haves"" and the ""have nots"" continuing to widen through the need to access virtual instruction potentially in the fall, and perhaps throughout the school year, depending on what the virus and the state government does what is necessary in order to keep everyone safe. We need to change the system. While not all families might be able to afford the Internet, we need to make it available for them to be able to access through one avenue or another, just like electricity in the rural nooks and crannies of our country. Something must be done to rectify this, so that we are prepared and can help our students be prepared to rise out of poverty through access to knowledge."

Karey, middle school teacher, Milton, says:

"We realize that at some point this month we may not have any internet connection. I’m trying to prepare lessons that will last for my students in the event that I won’t be able to connect with them from home. We have spent a great deal of time and money trying to figure out how we can get better internet access for our family. We haven’t been able to find a solution that can keep up with the increased demands for all of us in this virtual learning environment from home. The COVID-19 pandemic is exposing many inequities in our education system. There are many other teachers and families across the state who are in the same situation that we are. If we believe that education is opportunity, and that opportunity should be provided to all, then we must try to find solutions that ensure every student has access to high-speed internet - during this period of remote learning and in the future."

Brigette, special education teacher, New Castle, says:

"Our school has delivered computers to students, students with difficulty connecting due to wifi I am making calls to talk with them to help with assignments."

Serena, school librarian, Jonesborough, says:

"I work at a rural Title I school. Local boadband access is limited to neighborhoods and denser areas and many homes in our county have no access options other than satellite, cellular, or dial-up. I am reliant upon a wireless wifi hotspot in order to access the internet and post content for my students. It is costly and it has data threshold limits before speeds are throttled. I post to Twitter because it is easily accessible via mobile phone and that’s the only internet access many of my students have. I started a local petition about the lack of broadband internet access for rural Tennesseans. Luckily my district is distributing paper packets to offset the lack of internet access. I miss seeing my students’ faces!"

Isabelle, middle school teacher, Memphis, says:

"I am a 7th grade social studies teacher and I work at a school that serves a predominately low-income community and we have a high population of ESL students. Once the COVID-19 pandemic closed our school in March our administrators and educators jumped into action. We created a bi-monthly drive by packet distribution program. We went with paper packets over online learning because many of our students do not have access to either quality technology or the internet. The packet system is effective with 95.7% of students collecting materials week one and 93.5% of students collecting materials week two. This is not including families who requested home delivery. Our school also provides free packaged meals to any families in the city. On all my packets I provide my phone number. Over the course of the last three weeks I have had countless phone calls with students working through the questions with them. Sometimes they text me and sometimes I reach out to them. Unfortunately, some of the students on our case load do not have access to internet, to phones, or to computers. What this means is that they can't call me for help, they cannot access the read aloud videos which they so greatly need, and they can't join my zoom office hours. Education for them in many ways stopped when in person school halted. Even with all the services and outreach we are providing. the students that need support the most not being able to access it and teachers who want desperately to support them not being able to reach them. We are separated by an unequal technological divide."

Nadine, elementary school parent, Round Rock, says:

"I think the main struggle for us was missed assignments or meetings due to lack of access or faulty WiFi. It was hard for my son to be home and do school work because he missed his learning environment, teacher, and friends. He had zoom meetings toward the end of the school year that he looked forward to because he could see his teacher and friends. One Friday however, the link didn’t work or didn’t become available and he missed the meeting. That was really disappointing for him because it was his only opportunity for social interaction so he was pretty bummed. Also, some of the assignments didn’t lend themselves to being very easy or have clear directions. That was a challenge as well as we didn’t have immediate access to his teacher and usually had to await responses before moving forward. For me as a parent, it was difficult to work and also make sure he was supported and didn’t get frustrated by this online/ distance learning experience. "

Carolyn, elementary school teacher, Cedar Park, says:

"Our school had 42 students (out of 787) without stable internet access in March-May 2020. The majority of these families are in our dual language program, which makes up 50% of our school population. Where some teachers were able to post on SeeSaw or Google Classroom, or send one Email and get almost all students to respond, this was not always the case for our dual language teachers. Many of them went above and beyond, individually texting families through Remind, even traveling to houses on their personal time to drop off books and paper worksheets on doorsteps (contact-less). The families showed a very strong desire to participate in learning, the infrastructure was just not there to support it. Most of these families without stable internet live in a rural area, and travel around 45 minutes to get to our school in a suburb of Austin, TX. I am currently working with state representatives and district leadership to get hot spots to students (this is the plan for the coming year), but we also need a long-term solution for these areas."

Nancy, elementary and middle school teacher, Houston, says:

"It has been very difficult because I am also working from home. Yes, if my employers does not provide with the right equipment I will not be able to do my job. The school district did not give the right equipment for our kids to use or the teachers did not reach out to us to see if we need any help. I reached out to the school district and filed a complaint and only one teacher reached out to us and was very helpful but at the same time very frustrating because the information that I needed she was not able to help with."

Steve, middle school teacher, Lewisville, says:

"I teach at a Title I school with a high immigrant population. Even with internet companies offering free wifi, unpaid bills and citizenship status still prevented many of our students from having the connectivity needed at home to continue learning. Our district set up hot spots at many schools, which helped students who could get rides to work in the parking lots. For others, our counselors literally delivered hot spots personally to their homes."

Reina, high school teacher, Aubrey, says:

"My school is over 70% low socio economic and over 50% of our students do not have wifi. Even thought companies are offering free internet, most of the time they don't have enough boxes to service a neighborhood, or they don't cover that area. Please help!"

Lisa, school librarian, Forth Worth, says:

"For the last 2 weeks, we have been delivering devices, calling and texting for technical support, did a virtual teacher parade by School Tube, created a School Tube channel and Google Site to centralize our school's learning efforts, and more. Just tonight, at 10:00 on a Saturday night, I was helping a mom while she was at work. She was trying to access her daughter's assignments while at work with an internet connection and a device. Some of our families have checked out devices from our school, but they don't have wi-fi. So many families are without the technology that they need and are concerned about falling behind."

Reagan, high school teacher, Dallas, says:

"I teach in Dallas ISD, and even though there have been some hot spots given out, and computers issued to students, I have so many students that are without internet- I have a great majority of my students that are not submitting assignments online. Since I teach in a very low socioeconomic area, even some students that do have access cannot do it, because they are having to make money at home for the family, and they don't have the ability to know how to work the computers on their own. It is such a digital divide that we are dealing with- it is a much greater concern than just poverty itself on its own."

Lisa, high school teacher, Austin, says:

"We have quite a few students who are learning English as their second language. Our district has been trying hard to get them technology (Chromebooks and hotspots). The problem is most are not that computer literate to begin with. Some of them just arrived. It's been a challenge to try to get students to log on if they can't connect to their service provider or know to get one. A lot of the cable and phone companies have "free" internet but I discovered that it is only for new customers. This means that once the free period is over, they are going to start charging these people who are just trying to keep up with all the information. Most can't afford a cable bill. We are a Title 1 school."

Geoff, parent, Bee Cave, says:

"I wonder what happened to ""to much screen time is bad,"" producing a 'high' like drugs. My kids are on their computers schooling from 8.45 to 3.00 every day, then games online to connect with their friends and have some semblance of a social life. They are edgy, frustrated and scared, and why not, they can't see the enemy. My 14 year old cried when I went out to get groceries the first time. He was afraid I would get sick and die. He is a very smart young man. What have we let happen? The initial government reaction was one of panic and fear spreading, after now 40 days or so it is becoming more evident the number of people exposed was far greater than initially thought, making the death rate much, much lower than other flu like viruses. At a staggering toll to our children and their future. One has to wonder: What have we done and why? My children are aged much more than the 40 days of quarantine, they have been inculcated with fear, and part of that fear is a fear of independence, fear of freedom, after all don't listen to CDC and you could die."

Cindy, elementary school teacher, Alexandria City, says:

"Students in grades K-2 in my district did not take their Chromebooks home which means unless they have a computer at home, they have no computer access. As a Talented and Gifted teacher, I care deeply about increasing equity in gifted programs for underrepresented minority students. One key is early enrichment and identification. Without access, many students with academci potential are not going to receive the enrichment that they need in order to qualify for Gifted Programs later on. "

Jenn, elementary school teacher, Yorktown, says:

"This is actually a story I learned this week from a friend. She works to serve elementary age students in Newport News. None of those students have access to the internet. With the current pandemic this has made it almost impossible for the students to do their school work. The teachers have created some packets but, from my understanding, technology is still needed to provide instruction."

Byron, high school teacher, Winchester, says:

"The school district (Winchester Public Schools - WPS) has identified students who are unable to secure Internet connection and are having teachers send assignments to central office and they then are making a paper copies for students. This is a very small percentage of our student population. WPS is also serving meals at 12 different points in the community. All of the faculty at WPS are making phone calls and sending emails to help students and parents in the distance learning effort."

Kathleen, teacher, says:

"I have many families here in rural VT where there is no broadband access offered. Some students are lucky enough to have satellite access so those families can access Google classroom. Others are left with only workbooks and no interactive teaching by instructors. This turns parents into teachers and creates real discord in family life. Broadband access should be a basic utility offered to every current US citizen (located on the grid) so all children can have access to the same level of educational services so the universal testing can remain accurate."

Jane, elementary school teacher, Burlington, says:

"I relate my situation to Robert Frost's poem' Road Not Taken.' I never had used technology so extensively before the pandemic. Everything happened overnight. On a Friday March 13 2020, we were told no more school and on Monday,March 16, we were asked to prepare At Home Learning Virtual Platform! I had no clue how; so much so a quarter of my students had not even been logged on to Google Classroom."

Tammi, middle and high school teacher, Bremerton, says:

"I have students who have gone back to China, Korea and Japan and are trying to login and be apart of the class. I have other students who've left with their families to houses out in the country that do not have reliable internet to be able to be with us during the Team meetings so they watch a recording of the meeting. I don't love this as they are missing out on engaging with their classmates. There are also constant device/internet issues that I cannot resolve during out class which is very frustrating for Middle school students. They want to participate and they can't due to glitchy tech. We do not have a 1:1device school so they are all on different personal devices. It is difficult to try to engage and teach a class while trying to be the IT person in the room as well."

Patrick, middle school teacher, Vancouver, says:

"I was literally replying to a parent about their spotty WiFi connection and how it is affecting her 3 school age children when the Common Sense email came into my inbox asking me how access is affecting my students. There is only one room in her house where the signal is strong enough to be consistent. She would like to install boosters but doesn't know how. Two of her children have blown off assignments in part due to the connection issues they have. I have indirectly heard of parents driving around town, stopping at parking lots (gas stations, Starbucks, etc.) for several hours so their students can do their homework in the car via the business connection."

C.B., elementary school teacher, Tonasket, says:

"Our district has one-to-one devices available for student use. I have 18 students in my class and can only connect to 6 of them with Internet resources. The 12 remaining are receiving packets in the mail or through food delivery bus routes. Four of the 12 had been receiving language services but are limited to phone access and packets. Three of the 12 have Individual Education Plans. My biggest concern is that those students on an IEP do not have access to their teachers online because of economic differences. One is restricted to a pay-for-the-minute phone service that is not adequate to the families needs. All my students deserve the opportunity to learn. It is extremely difficult to supply that opportunity at this time."

Salli, elementary school teacher, Bremerton, says:

"Our tiny district is continuing to loan out Chromebooks (one per family) to each student who requests one. They are also trying to hand out hotspots, but those have run out. Many of our students live in hilly or tree filled areas where internet is dicey even for teachers. Many of our students are relying on the current free internet or hotspots, but those do not really support streaming like YouTube videos and may have daily time constraints (like 1 hour). As a primary teacher, I am posting assignments on my Google Classroom, and also sending hard copy work home. The work load is a lot."

Sydni, middle school teacher, SeaTac, says:

"Highline Public Schools has been distributing devices to students for 2 weeks. Chinook Middle School, with about 85% students receiving free/reduced meal assistance, is a 1 to 1 school. Our math department is very tech savvy using tools like Google Apps for Edu, Desmos, EdPuzzle, Khan Academy, YouTube, Seesaw and communicating with families via texting, email, phone calls. At school many of our students are used to working within the digital environment that we have setup. There are many struggles for our families, the most important being access to food. Our district has setup meal sites throughout the area where families can pick up food. As a middle school math teacher, I am concerned that students are not learning during this time for reasons beyond their control (ex. living in poverty, caring for siblings or other family members, trauma in their home, mental illness, no access to the Internet). Because of these issues, the knowledge gap is widening."

Barbara, middle and high school teacher, Federal Way, says:

"Our district has done a good job attempting to get resources to all students. However, many families in our district are afraid of filing for any assistance and repeatedly do not answer calls and emails. These families have students that are already struggling do to poverty, language challenges, and disrupted education. This departure from in person instruction is setting those students into a deeper spiral in the gap that separates them from their peers. I feel that as long as this continues, the damage to these children will be catastrophic and irreparable."

Brenda, middle school teacher, Seattle, says:

"My job as a special education teacher is to support and provide ways for students to be successful by reaching their IEP (Individualized Education Program) goals. Since our last day at school (March 11, 2020), it has been a challenge to meet their needs. Remote learning has not been a good thing for all students. The students who are not equipped to access their school Schoology accounts are getting further behind. I had a parent sent me a email today regarding how to find a hot spot in her building so her child could connect the device they had for learning. Looking for a hot spot means the parent has no Internet access. This is only going to harm those students and families furthest from education. I have a pretty decent percentage of contact with parents due to school closure, yet its those that I cannot make contact with. I am frightened for next school year 2020-2021 when students come back in the fall. Their confidence and lack of knowledge will only spiral combined with lost of academic and social skills practice. Mental health should be of concern for students, for many families will not fair well through out the pandemic. Internet connection is a vital aspect that separates students from technology. Equipment and access should be available to families with school children. Society must realize the digital divide is real. Access and education should not only be for some and not others, especially those from low socioeconomic backgrounds. Raising expectations for all students young and old, is especially important for a growing society if building young people to have skills and way to create a better life for them and their family."

Katherine, middle school special education teacher, Renton, says:

"I delivered hotspot limited devices to homeless families, I sent home reading books, printed out materials work packets for all my families the first week due to low access to digital online resources, biweekly phone calls to parents, principal phone/video chats I post social emotional learning activities important for students with special needs-worry over emotional and academic needs, worry over basic needs students received at school/in my class now where??, how far behind academically will they be and who will pay to make up those lost services and when(summer/holidays/evenings), daily living skills/social skills with peers can not really be taught well online especially without consistent service and to bilingual households. The most vulnerable population of special education is the one again being most under-served by this model severe ASD with lack of programming and devices and directions for families in home language. Daily changing rules(documentation) for sped teachers that take away from direct service to those families. The computer , directions, websites and assignments themselves may or may not be ADA compliant and no time /training for staff to learn how to make them that way (we want to be we are already working 16 hour days and having nightmares that it is not good enough for our families. That is why I am retiring after 32 years at the end of this year!"

Megan, elementary and middle school teacher, Milwaukee, says:

"The students within our school come from low-income families and many parents that speak little to no English. Through this distance learning, we have a significant struggle in many areas due to the lack of broadband and technology. We made it know that students can "check-out" iPads and Chromebooks and have given out around 30. However, that is only one piece of the puzzle. Parents struggle with accessing the information as language and their own technology background plays a role as well. The students in grades 3-8th have a great understanding but students K4-2nd grade need to rely on parental support. Due to the lack of accessibility, I have significant concerns at how this will further widen the achievement gap we see in our city. Our students make significant growth with the access we can provide at school, but with this extended and possibly the rest of the school year, they are going to be left further behind. We have needed to supplement with paper packets, however, we need to communicate to ensure understanding of the materials, and it takes the differentiation of online platforms that are available to completely meet the students' needs. Increasing equity in this area is a huge concern I have and I will do anything to help increase equity so that all students have the ability to achieve at a high level."

Marcella, high school teacher, Ashland, says:

"As a district that services three very distinct populations of families the access to technology varies greatly. There are some who have no technology, those who have it, but no internet access or unreliable access, and those who have internet, but no devices. The district has assisted with the device issue by providing all students with a 1-to-1 device if families came in and picked it up. However, this created a new problem now the internet service that some of the families have can not support all of the technology that needs to be used. For those that absolutely cannot get access we are going to provide them with "packet" type work to supplement what others are getting digitally. There is no real good solution to this. Rural and remote areas like where I teach are at such a disadvantage because there are places where there is no cable lines even laid. Congress does need to figure out away to support its citizens during this unprecedented time in education"

Vicki, high school teacher, Mineral Wells, says:

"In WV, teachers are left out as well. My best internet option is a hotspot from my cell provider but that is speeds of 5-10 mbps. And I have a data limit. I can't search as much for enriching activities because of that. I have students emailing me saying they can see the activities I am posting, but can't submit any work back to me because their internet is too slow to send pictures. They can't access our curriculum's math computer program because they don't have the data speed. We aren't in the remote mountains. We are in the 3rd largest population area of the state!"

Tim, principal, Point Pleasant, says:

"We can't have engaging education pieces from our toolbox to share with the students when the bandwidth will not support all West Virginia student having assignments on the internet. The internet is off numerous times a day at my house. The times vary every day. I have talked with Frontier. I received a message saying they know the internet is responding. They are working on it. I can't answer emails from the staff or parents. I can't reply to staff via our message group. The students can't do their work. They can't print work off, because they internet won't stay on long enough. There was no plan in place. I do think that people have no idea about signals, how much they have, or should have and are getting shorted. I know a couple summers ago, the repairman was working on my lines. He said I was not getting what the bill said I was. They also want to charge you to get a faster speed, which is not fair. There needs to be cost limits. People can not afford all of this. Your cell phone has unlimited until you use to much then you have met your limit. How do you know you are using high speed or low speed?"

Robin, says:

"In rural WV, we have vast areas without home internet or cell service availability, making digital distance learning impossible for many students. #ConnectAllStudents"

Amanda, director of elementary, Afton, says:

"Our district was very prepared at the secondary level for remote learning when our schools were closed. At the elementary level, our amazing teachers quickly jumped on board with Google Classroom, but the question that immediately arose was, "How do we serve those students without a device or access to the internet?" Our principals developed a plan to first have teachers call every family in our district to survey their needs. Based on that information, our principals then organized a device distribution. Luckily, we had many classroom sets of devices and were able to distribute devices to students/families who needed them. Each building assigned teachers to call the families who qualified for a device and arranged a safe and sanitary pickup. Our teachers submitted a list of current resources to be posted on our webpage and then shared login information with parents/students. Our community has rallied together as well. One of our providers, Silver Star, has tripled the amount of hotspots available in the valley for our students to connect. We are having great success with Google Classroom and Canvas and connecting with students. For the small number of students who have not yet connected online, principals are in the process of making safe home visits to those families. We want to ensure that every student has access to remote learning opportunities."

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For more on this topic, see our campaign to connect all students, or read our latest research on closing the digital divide.

"Adequate access to the internet" refers to forms of internet connectivity that are suitable for online learning, including DSL, cable, fiber, and satellite; cellular LTE; or cellular hot spot internet where mobile tethering is feasible. Does not include dial-up or cellular-enabled mobile devices. "Devices" refers to devices suitable for online learning, including laptops, computers, and tablets. Does not include mobile cellular phones.

Source: Closing the K–12 Digital Divide in the Age of Distance Learning, 2020. Common Sense Media and Boston Consulting Group.