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COVID-19 and School Closures – It Isn’t Just About Academics

THIS POST WILL BE UPDATED OVER THE NEXT FEW WEEKS.

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.

Internet access:

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.

Charter/Spectrum 

…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.

Comcast/Xfinity

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.

Unlimited Data offers

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.

Food:

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:

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.

Offline activities:

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!

More Resources

 

Published by

GKTechies

Two people who love using technology – From ed tech to accessibility, we'll try to post helpful tips and interesting information along with tips and perspectives on technology or life in general. We've taught elementary, secondary, CTE, business, and special education. G is a former CTE/business teacher who enjoys sailing, cycling, and photography. K is a tech trainer with a passion for writing, reading, and baking. We also love spending time with our 2 rescue dogs. For our YouTube channel with simple, no-nonsense tutorials: http://bit.ly/gktechies.

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