There are virtual learning hurdles at both big and small area school districts

Districts discuss overcoming technology challenges

SAN ANTONIO – Virtual learning requires internet access, having the necessary computer equipment and knowing how to use it.

Virtual learning can have its challenges, and those issues have recently presented themselves, especially in the smaller school districts.

Southside Independent School District has given out 500 hot spots and over 5,000 Chromebooks or iPads for students. The district said they want to make sure no student is left behind.

“We understand that some people have lost their jobs, they are struggling just to put food on the table,” Rolando Ramirez, the superintendent for Southside ISD said. ”So we want to make sure that we do our part to assist our families as much as we can.”

From teaching grandparents and students step by step on how to log into the virtual classrooms to physically driving those tools to their doorstep, the district says they are doing anything they can to help students.

“Parents have called us saying they have the hot spot, but still don’t get the connection,” Ramirez said. “So we’ll send over a bus to assist with that wi-fi connection.”

Somerset ISD started Monday, and the superintendent says connectivity is an issue with a lot of their families, especially being in a rural area.

“We’ve been out knocking on doors for those parents that we can’t get a hold of. We want to make sure that we’ve reached every student,” Dr. Saul Hinojosa, Somerset ISD superintendent said.

The district has also given out hot spots and Chromebooks to students. Somerset Junior High School teacher, Wesley Thompson, said it’s not just having the right tools, but making sure students feel comfortable and ready to learn.

“Our content is probably not starting for two weeks because there are more important things at the moment, like how are the kids doing,” Thompson said. “It’s getting to know the kids. They really need that interaction. The teachers really need that interaction.”

Somerset ISD said they have reached 96 percent of its students by going door to door and have equipped them with the digital tools they need. The district said they hope they are able to reach the other four percent this week.

But it is not just smaller districts that face virtual learning challenges. North Side Independent School District, one of the biggest school districts in our area, announced today that they are having issues with its login portal.

The district said it is working with the vendor on a resolution and that it is not an Internet or bandwidth issue.

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