BIG SANDY, Texas (KETK) – Big Sandy ISD shutting down its schools to in-person learning and going strictly to online learning through October 5 due to the number of COVID-19 cases.
And while the district said this transition is essential for the helath of its students, faculty, and staff, it does raise a qustion: what about students without reliable internet access?
The district has adopted a plan to accommodate those students.
In a letter to district families, Superintendent Mike Burns said the district is making school parking lots and gyms available for students who need a way to connect to the internet.
“All of our parking lots have Wifi access,” Burns said in the letter. “Students can sit in their cars and access the internet for as long as possible.”
The district also will open the elementary school gym and junior high gym beginning Thursday.
Both gyms will be open 8 a.m.-noon and supervised by school employees.
“Space is limited due to social distancing requirements, especially in light of the current outbreak that is affecting the district,” Burns wrote.
“If there is more demand for spaces, Big Sandy ISD will consider opening an afternoon session as well,” the letter said.
Burns stressed that students who have tested positive for COVID-19 will not be able to use the gym facilities until they have been officially cleared by their school.
Burns said the district “understands that there are students who have been attending class face-to-face who don’t have reliable internet connection at home.”
It had hoped to alleviate that problem by ordering more than 100 mobile wifi hotspots, “but has not yet received them due to a large back-order.”
Parents whose children will be using the gym are required to call the appropriate school office in advance. Parents should also let schools know whether they can provide transportation to and from school. If not, the school will work to assist.
“We ask that if you do have internet at home that you stay at home and allow those students in our district who do not have that access … to be able to have the first opportunity to access their remote learning from campus,” Burns wrote.
“We obviously thank you for your patience and understanding during these times,” he wrote. “I know that the decision to close the school is an inconvenience for many of you and we didn’t take this decision lightly.
“Our hope is that on October 5th, the worst of this outbreak will be behind our district and we can go back to the way we were operating in August and most of September.”