Schools around the world (61 countries have closures, 39 nationwide as of this posting) are closing due to coronavirus (COVID-19). Tweets are flowing with online resources, educational technology companies offering free services to closed schools, lesson ideas for #RemoteLearning, but there are a few areas that don’t seem to be discussed much.
In this digital age, we can be connected more than ever, but not all students have technology or decent internet. Below are some companies stepping up to assist with the internet/data part.
See the list of 550+ companies that signed the FCC’s “Keep Americans Connected” pledge.
…beginning Monday, March 16, Charter commits to the following for 60 days:
Charter will offer free Spectrum broadband and Wi-Fi access for 60 days to households with K-12 and/or college students who do not already have a Spectrum broadband subscription at any service level up to 100 Mbps. To enroll call 1-844-488-8395.
We will make it even easier for low-income families who live in a Comcast service area to sign up by offering new customers 60 days of complimentary Internet Essentials service, which is normally available to all qualified low-income households for $9.95/month.
Loving all the 60 day free internet offers for students and families, but what about teachers who may have limited access, slow speeds, or are on a tight budget who don’t have children and are expected to teach remotely? #TeachersNeedInternetToo #COVID19 #CoronaVirusEdu pic.twitter.com/CZYbIe1RDv
— Karyn Fillhart (@Filibuster3) March 14, 2020
Comcast is the largest home-Internet provider in the nation. AT&T, the second-biggest home-Internet provider that enforces data caps, announced that it would waive the caps yesterday.
T-Mobile also issued an announcement late Friday, saying it will upgrade all current customers to “unlimited smartphone data for the next 60 days (excluding roaming).” This applies to any T-Mobile plan or Metro by T-Mobile prepaid plan that has a monthly data cap. Additionally, T-Mobile said it is giving all customers “an additional 20GB of mobile hotspot/tethering service for the next 60 days.” Sprint, which is being acquired by T-Mobile, is taking identical steps.
Please figure out ways to feed students who usually get their meals through free/reduced lunch programs. Love this tweet from one district on their plan:
Due to school closures, Nutrition Services will offer FREE breakfast and lunch grab & go meals to ALL students.
Learn more on our website here: https://t.co/r1gd4AhxoX
— Romoland School District (@RomolandSD) March 14, 2020
Books and Materials:
Try to be careful of home assignments that involve supplies. Not everyone has books at their reading level or construction paper or glue or even writing paper. Maybe publishers and sellers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble will consider donating children’s books to food giveaways, charities, and places of worship to distribute.
@WHO has declared #COVID19 a pandemic. 22 nations closed ALL schools. #RemoteLearning
Many Ts said Ss don’t have digital access, let alone books to read for at home learning.@amazonbooks @BNBuzz & publishers, how about sending books to food giveaways & charities to distribute? pic.twitter.com/NejnJIUKCa
— Karyn Fillhart (@Filibuster3) March 12, 2020
Remember that not all families have decent internet or even internet at all or technology available except for maybe a shared smartphone. I’ve listed some ideas by subject for no tech activities that require little to no materials. There’s also a quick video on our YouTube channel about it.
Final Thoughts: Not all have childcare. Not everyone can work from home. Teachers may be expected to teach from home, but have their own children at home, too. Nothing like this has happened during their lifetimes. Encourage, build up, support each other and your children (students) and reassure them that this is precautionary and you will be there for them.
Since some closures were without much warning, students may not know how to use the online systems and don’t forgot those who usually receive special education services. . How are you meeting their needs? This is an opportunity for communities to come together, show support, and STOP HOARDING TOILET PAPER!