As parents contemplate sending kids to school, rural areas see internet capabilities as major hurdle

Published: Jul. 26, 2020 at 9:27 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 26, 2020 at 9:42 PM CDT
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WEST PLAINS, Mo. (KY3) - Parents with kids in rural school districts worry not having internet or reliable connectivity could hinder learning efforts for their child this coming school year.

“I’m stuck in the middle,” Kimberly Vaughn told KY3 when asked how she’s feeling about fall classes.

Right now, many parents near West Plains find themselves in the same spot as Vaughn.

“I’m thinking about sending my child to school but I’m also concerned that if we don’t send our kids to school, they’re not going to get educated. If we do send our kids to school there’s a chance they get the virus,” Vaughn added.

Administrators at the Junction Hill School District, where Vaughn’s oldest child goes to school, say back-to-school plans are being finalized now and will be released this week.

“How they’re going to keep our kids safe at school and how they are going to stop the spread of the virus when or if it does get to the school,” Vaughn stated when asked what she wants to see in the district’s plan.

Internet or the lack of it, worries Vaughn and other rural parents.

“Out where we live, we don’t get internet. There’s no internet out there yet, Vaughn explained. My concern with that is most parents, they can’t afford internet. They can’t afford computers for this online stuff.”

Adding hot spots is one way rural school districts are addressing the issue.

Vaughn is concerned that schools could close again, forcing parents to once again home school.

Students without computers or internet access would then likely have work packets to complete and turn in.

“Most kids can do better in school than they can at home, Vaughn excalimed. So my question is, how are they can make sure our kids are educated, even if we have to be at home?”

Earlier this month, Missouri Governor Mike Parson announced $50 million in CARES Act funding to improve broadband internet access across the state, with a focus on rural areas.

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