How rural schools sought opportunity in school closures
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.
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:
- Sunray ISD accelerates shift to self-paced learning
- Gilmer County Schools pick up STEAM
- How to ensure digital equity remains a priority
- Why PD is key to rural tech integration
- Overcoming college access issues in rural districts
DA’s coronavirus page offers complete coverage of the impacts on K-12.