The impact of the COVID 19 Pandemic was felt most keenly by schools and their families. Social distancing restrictions required every school to create virtual curriculum so that students could learn from home. Once this occured, it became clear that many children lacked proper internet resources to attend their classes, and complete assignments. HEALTHIER TOGETHER was able to help bridge that gap for a few of our St. Clair County schools through a Distance Learning program offered by Verizon. One of these schools, Edward A. Fulton Junior High, received support from HEALTHIER TOGETHER to provide six months of internet service to eight families consisting of 12 junior high students. While 12 may not seem like a large number, some of these families had multiple school aged and neighboring children, from elementary to high school, who also benefited from the hotspots. The junior high students are required to be online for classes from 7:45 a.m. until 12:45 p.m. In addition, they are required to complete homework outside of classroom hours that require internet access for research and homework submission. Without these mobile hotspot devices, these children would have been at a severe disadvantage.
"The central job of schools is to maximize the capacity of each student."
-Carol Ann Tomlinson
Fulton Jr. High was entirely remote for several weeks of the 2020/2021 school year, while the rest of the time has been spent on a hybrid schedule. While children are now attending part-time classroom hours, they are still working entirely remote on Wednesdays and only part-time throughout the rest of the week. These devices allow both the students, and staff, the flexibility to learn wherever they are.
Healthier Together was able to supply 8 families and 12 Fulton Jr. High students with internet services.
While the initial need for these devices was to bridge a gap towards educational equality for students, schools quickly realized that their students needed some normalcy during a time faced with so many challenges. In addition to academics, Fulton Jr. High was able to host several other enrichment opportunities including a virtual dance party via Zoom, and other events through clubs, extracurriculars, and House Meetings. Fulton Jr. High staff noted that providing students with adequate internet services allowed for every Fulton student to feel included and have a chance to participate in events.
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