How rural schools sought opportunity in school closures

Digital equity has become a priority as rural educations revamp their curriculums
By: | July 2, 2020
Digital equity has become an even higher priority in rural school districts, such as Washington Parish School System in Louisiana, as leaders prepare for continued online learning in the new school year.Digital equity has become an even higher priority in rural school districts, such as Washington Parish School System in Louisiana, as leaders prepare for continued online learning in the new school year.

Closing schools and moving online has amplified many of the challenges rural school districts were already facing.

In rural Gilmer County, West Virginia, for example, even students who have home internet access sometimes get caught on the wrong side of the digital divide when the weather’s bad.

“We have students who don’t have internet or their internet is so poor that it goes out when it’s raining,” says Kelly Barr, a 7th-grade math teacher at Gilmer County High School. “Hopefully, this situation will shed light on the digital divide we’re dealing with.”

When Gilmer County’s schools closed, students without home connectivity had to snap pictures of completed homework packets and find a way to share it with teachers.


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If they were successful, they got a boost in their grade, says Barr, who presented on STEAM integration in rural schools at DA’s 2020 Future of Education Technology® Conference.

The plight of these students—with the possibility of further disruptions next school year—has given renewed momentum to national efforts to close the digital divide.

Accordingly, rural superintendents and teachers remain committed, and some have even found new opportunities in the adjustments the coronavirus outbreak has forced on their students.

Here are some examples:


DA’s coronavirus page offers complete coverage of the impacts on K-12.