Letter: Board needs to be proactive in high-speed internet
May I say congratulations to Gloucester County Schools for using online education in its summer school program. Forward thinking communities always have the upper hand in this rapidly changing world. You have done your part to help prepare our children and if the BOS had only done theirs, your from-home participation may have been higher.
There is a difference between access ability and access, as most of you know. A child may qualify for a special school, but if the school is farther than the child’s family can afford to drive and has no transportation, then the school is inaccessible. The same holds true for the internet.
I have no way of knowing how many of the roughly 40 percent (36 of 86) of online summer school attendees that still had to go to school did not have computers, but I would not doubt many of them did not have high-speed internet. If they live off the routes where cable is available and cell phone connection is iffy (yes, there are many of us), dial-up would be a challenge to use. Satellites are expensive so I don’t even count them.
The Gloucester County BOS has had ample time and opportunity to make WiFi available through small business providers. They decided not to decide. A private citizen even offered to get the ball rolling by paying for the first structure, shot down because after a year, almost two, planning and the BOS are (my opinion) waiting for a large company to come in and tell them what to do, and have no, zero, not one ordinance designed for WiFi.
This of course means at least one more summer where some have true access to online summer school and some don’t. School Board good. BOS not so.
S. J. Mehaffey