AMADOR COUNTY (CBS13) — The need for technology is still high in California as students start another round of distance learning. In rural areas, there are still questions circling around how to connect if service is spotty.
“If thousands of students and teachers log on for distance learning, can our internet provider handle that load or is it going to crash?” asked Heather Hammergren, who lives in Volcano.
A valid question Hammergren in Amador County, where for her daughter a hot spot isn’t helpful and the internet can be spotty.
“If she’s in the middle of a lesson or needs to get on at a certain time and we don’t have internet connection, how is that going to affect her?” Hammergren asked.
The digital divide is still strong as the state says thousands are still in need of devices or hot spots to start the year.
“It’s not just rural areas. It’s a big issue,” Hammergren said.
Districts across the area are trying to address it.
“Some hot spot providers offer better service based on your area, so that’s one thing we’ll troubleshoot with them,” said Shelley Spessard with Stockton Unified.
Stockton Unified, for example, still has 22,000 hot spots on backorder as thousands have already been handed out to families in hopes of curbing connectivity issues. The demand for these hot spots across the country is high.
“We do believe in holding children harmless,” Spessard said. “Internet should not be a barrier to accessing their education.”
When it comes to consequences for possible learning loss due to connection problems, districts like Elk Grove, say there likely won’t be any.
“Having an issue of not connecting isn’t so much a truant matter,” said Xanthi Pinkerton with Elk Grove USD. “It’s just a matter of getting caught up with the teacher.”
In Amador County, where Hammergren’s daughter goes to school, the district said they successfully connected more than 99% of their students last year. But there’s still 1% of those who may have an issue, and to work with them, they’re adding more internet providers for hot spots.
In dire circumstances, they can provide hard copies of work to students who can’t connect.
No matter the move, Hammergren said she wants the same for students in any district. She hopes things out of a student’s control won’t impact them in the long run.
“I just want what’s best for our kids and for our kids to learn,” she said.
Some parents were concerned about multiple students in their households needing to use a device at the same time. The districts CBS13 spoke with said they can accommodate multiple devices as long as there’s a need for them.