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When Accessing Education Is an IT Problem

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When Accessing Education Is an IT Problem

Photo caption: A wi-fi-equipped school bus provides limited internet access to students in nearby apartments. (Photo by Jana Birchum). Article by Clara Ence Morse.

AISD plots how to get wi-fi to students

When the Austin Independent School District switched to online-only learning in March, it did so knowing that around 25% of its students – perhaps more than 20,000 – lacked broadband internet connections, according to AISD Chief Technology Officer Kevin Schwartz.

As in-person gatherings, from daily school to monthly neighborhood meetings to annual medical checkups, were called off one by one to prevent the spread of COVID-19, an internet connection became the only conduit keeping students and their families in touch with teachers, employers, doctors, and friends in the outside world. And although it is not classified or regulated as a utility, Schwartz sees the connection as a “lifeline.” With schools and libraries, which normally offer free wi-fi access, closed during the pandemic, thousands of Austin families without broadband at home have been left in the lurch. […]

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