“We had about 200 students and families that identified as needing help with internet if they were going to do distance learning,” said Richard Aldrich, the superintendent for Hibbing Public Schools.
Students from the Hibbing and Rock Ridge school districts were given I-pads and hot spots to have reliable service to do distance learning in the spring. The superintendents from both districts said they plan on offering this again for the upcoming school year.
“We have gotten hold of 150 hot spots that are ready to distribute and we will have those available for students who have difficulty connecting to the internet,” said Noel Schmidt, the superintendent for Rock Ridge Public Schools.
Steve Giorgi, the executive director of the Range Association of Municipalities and Schools said over the spring they worked with school districts to survey students on their internet connection and said results were alarming.
“I think a lot of districts were unaware because when talking to the students, students report that they’re connected when they actually only have a cell phone,” said Giorgi.”Truly to accomplish distance learning you need a broadband internet connection,” said Giorgi.
Giorgi also said they are in talks with schools now to offer temporary solutions for students by using wireless connections for a better service. For a long term solution, they had a meeting with a consultant Monday to look at different locations on the range for broadband expansion.
“It really is a struggle here in the northern part of the state and especially on the range. Our broadband connectivity is something that could really be improved,” said Aldrich.