Many children who are attending school remotely are struggling because they don’t have reliable Wi-Fi at home.
Spokane Public Schools is working with Comcast and Community Minded Enterprises to give students more places to go where they can virtually connect to their schools.
For a student, connecting virtually with school each morning can be a good experience if all the technology is working. But if something along the way goes wrong, or if you don’t have fast, reliable Internet service, you might be playing catch up. Some children have to go elsewhere to connect to school, says Oscar Harris, the chief family and engagement officer for Spokane Public Schools.
“Childcare centers became learning pods and learning centers and so, as we began starting to look at that as a district, we began reaching out to childcare centers," Harris said.
He says the school district also reached out to Community Minded Enterprises to identify centers where children of families with low incomes are served.
Enter Comcast, which is working with communities it serves around the country, to install what it calls “lift zones.”
“A ‘lift zone’ is a facility designed to provide low-income students with a safe and clean space to really fully participate in online learning, whether it’s during the day or doing homework before or after school. I would describe this as commercial grade, heavy-duty wi-fi service in these locations with multiple access points," said Kris Workman, the director of technical operations at Comcast in Spokane.
He says it means a few dozen children can log on in a facility at one time without worrying about losing service. Workman says Comcast has established eight “lift zones” at Spokane child care facilities with four more to be installed by the end of the year.
Comcast is installing the technology free of charge to the childcare centers. The company says the centers will determine who can come to their facilities and access the Internet, whether it’s limited to their paying customers or open to the public.
Workman says the “lift zones” are part of Comcast’s Internet Essentials program. More information is available at InternetEssentials.com.