FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Thousands of students who aren’t able to connect to the internet will still have the chance to participate in remote learning, if all goes to plan. Fort Wayne Community Schools leaders have purchased 9,000 internet hotspots ahead of the 2020-2021 school year.
Earlier this week, FWCS Superintendent Dr. Mark Daniel rolled out the school system’s Return to Learn plan. It gave parents the option of remote learning or in-building instruction for their children. Middle and high school students’ schedules will be mixed between home and at-school.
School administrators have anticipated that one-third of students will need help connecting to remote learning because they don’t have access to internet. The hotspots will be made available for families who demonstrate that they need the piece of equipment.
“We want to make sure – it’s really critical that students have, not just the technology of the device, the laptop or the ipad, but that they can connect to the internet,” FWCS Spokesperson Krista Stockman told WANE 15. “That’s a brand new piece for this year, that we’ve never done before.”
The hotspots will only connect to the devices provided by the school district. The devices will only connect to educated related resources, with access limited to other websites and apps.
“If people are worried that someone is just going to take this device and get rid of their home internet, it’s not going to be an attractive option for that,” Stockman explained. “This is really designed just for students learning.”
The district put out a phone poll to district parents on Monday, ahead of the plan announcement. Out of about 10,000 responses, about half of elementary school parents said they prefer remote learning. About one-third of middle and high school students will likely stay home.
The district’s leaders have said remote learning will focus on new learning, as opposed to the spring when the goal was more to just keep students engaged in their schooling.
“Going forward, it’s really about that new learning, that academic rigor, making sure you’re not disengaged, you’re not just sitting at home and not paying attention, that you really are learning,” Stockman added.
Distribution of devices is set to happen right before or right at the start of the school year. The first day is planned for August 10. Parents must decide about remote learning by July 29.