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Hotspots for Kids in Bend-La Pine Schools

With learning going virtual April 1, district comes up with a solution for those without internet at home

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With schools closed at least through April 28 statewide due to the COVID-19 pandemic, students have spent the last week in something of a "emergency weather closure" mode, as it pertains to staying home and doing no school work. With spring break scheduled for next week, that pattern continues for another week.

But starting the following week, students in Bend-La Pine Schools will work directly with their teachers on assignments from home, and can expect to hear from students' teachers by Tuesday, March 31 about each classroom's plan. (Updated: the original version said May 31. That was an error.)
In a letter to families sent home Friday, Superintendent Shay Mikalson offered answers to some of the frequently asked questions families have.

One of those questions: How will the online school work for those students who don't have internet access at home? With libraries, coffee shops and other free internet resources closed due to social distancing, access to the internet has become more of a challenge for some.

"Access to learning for all students is a priority of ours," Mikalson wrote. "We will be distributing a limited number of hotspots to accommodate those families who do not currently have internet access. We also encourage families to contact local cable and phone providers for possible no cost options for internet connections as some providers are currently providing these services free to students.

STEVE RIOT, PIXABAY
  • Steve Riot, Pixabay
With iPads distributed to students in 3rd grade and above in BLPS, many activities are expected to happen online. Still, Mikalson said students do have the option to be more tactile. 

"Paper packets will also be utilized at the elementary level and for other students 6-12 who need it, and digital learning at the secondary level can be downloaded to Google Drive in order to provide access offline, if necessary. All teachers can be contacted via phone in lieu of email for families that do not have internet," Mikalson wrote.



Local internet providers such as BendBroadband are offering free service for 60 days to low-income households and those with students in K-12 and college; however, inquiries as to whether the service would require a long-term contract went unanswered. 

Teachers will spend the Monday and Tuesday before the "return" of school working on plans for students, and will plan lessons in two-week windows, Mikalson explained.

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Nicole Vulcan

Nicole Vulcan has been editor of the Source since 2016. (Blame her for everything since then.) Favorite car: A Trek commuter bike. Favorite cat: An adopted dog who looks like a Jedi master. Favorite things, besides responding to your comments: Downton Abbey re-runs, Aretha Franklin albums, and pink wine.

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