COLORADO SPRINGS — If you are a family struggling to keep up with the cost of online learning, there is help available.
We contacted several school districts across southern Colorado and the resounding theme is: if you need help, reach out to them and they will work with you to find solutions.
"Call your school today," suggests Tillie Elvrum, director of the Colorado Coalition of Cyberschool Families and an experienced cyberschool parent herself. "Let them know that you are having issues. Communicate with the teachers that this is an issue so that everybody is on the same page and that they can rally the resources to support you."
HOW SCHOOL DISTRICTS ARE HELPING
These are some examples of how school districts in southern Colorado are assisting families with online learning.
Colorado Springs School District 11:
Private donors can help support families through The Foundation for D11, which has helped pay for internet service for more than 300 families. The district is also providing their students with digital devices, like tablets and computers.
Harrison School District 2:
Every student in the Harrison School District 2 (K-12) will receive a high-quality laptop at no charge from the District. They are equipped with bluetooth, speakers and camera. If the family does not have internet, the District is covering that for the student as well.
This was part of the district's plan to be able to offer high quality e-Learning or remote learning if a school or the District had to go remote.
In addition to this, classrooms are now outfitted with cameras, headsets and large monitors so our teachers can live-stream their English/Language Arts classes and math classes for e-Learners. These students participate in live instruction with their peers who are in the classroom learning at the same time.
Academy District 20:
Academy District 20 is providing hotspots and/or computer/tablets to any student who needs a device or internet. The district typically requests principals ask their school populations who might need assistance at the beginning of the year and then connect with those families individually. However, if throughout the year a parent/family reaches out, the district works with them to get them the tech they need
Fountain-Fort Carson School District 8:
This year, FFC8 is providing a device to all students registered in our district in grades K-12. There's a fee, which is prorated for families on free and reduced meals. Up until this year, the district was providing laptops for all students in grades 6-12, so they are expanding that this year to include K-5 with the Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF). The district is also providing hotspots to families who need help accessing the internet.
Pueblo School District 60:
Pueblo School District 60 is providing iPads for first graders and Google Chromebooks for students in grades 2 to 12.
And if parents can't afford internet, they'll either provide hotspots or work with community partners like catholic charities to get them the funds they need.
Pueblo County School District 70:
Pueblo County School District 70 is with the Pueblo Library District to check out hotspots to those families living in areas without adequate service. They will also be checking out devices to families who need computers for our remote learning.
HOW OTHER CYBERSCHOOL PARENTS ARE HELPING
Elvrum understands that parents tackling online learning for the first time may feel overwhelmed and she wants to reassure them, it's OK to feel that way. She wants parents to know that the best thing they can do right now is to make sure their student is logging in to do their schoolwork and has a productive and quiet workspace.
The Colorado Coalition of Cyberschool Families can help parents looking for advice or mentors as they navigate online learning.
You can join their group on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/SupportforOnlineLearning/ and follow them on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/parents4support
ADDITIONAL INTERNET ASSISTANCE
When it comes to internet, Comcast is also offering two months of free internet through its Internet Essentials Program for low-income families.
You can find out more about that program here: https://www.internetessentials.com/covid19.