Jackson County school superintendent discusses internet challenges in rural areas

Jackson County school superintendent discusses internet challenges in rural areas

SCOTTSBORO, Ala. (WAFF) - School officials in Jackson County are excited to welcome students back this upcoming school year.

But school leaders are concerned about students’ access to internet in rural areas.

Like many others, students and staff at Jackson County sales will be heading back into the classroom in a few weeks.

Teachers will start on Aug. 3 and students will return on Aug. 7 with the options of traditional blended learning or remote learning.

Superintendent Kevin Dukes said with schools located in rural areas some students could face challenges connecting to WiFi.

“We have access to Wi-Fi, but not 100 percent. We’re in a rural county so those are things we are keeping an eye on. A lot of people are going with the mobile and Wi-Fi hot spots but to us its hard because one cellular service will work in one part of the county and the other cellular service will work in the other part of the county, so it’s a hit or miss,” said Dukes.

Dukes said the district sent out a survey to parents to find out what options they would like to choose for learning, if they have internet access and if students will be riding the bus.

The sate allocated money to provide school buses with Wi-Fi, but Jackson County hasn’t received it yet.

Due to the blended learning options, Dukes said the school district will also be flexible on attendance this year.

“If your child has a dentist appointment, they can still learn the blended way because they will have Chromebooks that they can work with it,” he said.

He said there will also be times that students will be learning blended from home.

Most importantly, ensuring that the students are safe will be the top priority for school officials.

“We’re planning on assigned seats, every day the seats in the class will be the same, the seats on the bus will be the same, the seats when they eat in the lunchroom will be the same that way if someone gets the virus we will know who they were around " said Dukes.

Dukes said the school district will be calling parents to follow up on the survey to ensure how many students will or will not have internet access and assist them before the school year.

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