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Stories and information in our region on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lack Of Internet Access Poses Challenges To Long Island School Districts

Carolyn Thompson

Most schools on Long Island began an online-based curriculum after the statewide shutdown last month due to the coronavirus. The transition to online learning depends on internet access, and for some communities on Long Island this is a problem.

OLA of Eastern Long Island, a Latino-focused non-profit group, donated more than two thousand Chromebooks to local schools.

Executive Director Minerva Perez says every student should get to continue their education.

“They’re already interrupted. So this kind of structure and the kind of education they’re getting is important—that it’s happening even on a tablet, even on a Chromebook or an iPad.”

Perez says even if students have devices though, they may not have a reliable internet connection.

“They are now lacking in the basics, even in terms of food. Basic food to get through a week. In terms of internet access, that might be the first thing to go.”

Lars Clemensen is superintendent of the Hampton Bays School District. When they transitioned to online learning last month, they identified students who didn’t have internet access.

Clemensen says they put an alternative in place.

“In the meantime, we’ve been providing those kids with the Google Classroom assignments in hard copy, so we’ve been sending them or dropping them off through the bus system to get them, so they’re not falling behind in their work.”

Clemensen says they are working with donors and local groups like OLA to buy mobile hotspots so all students can learn online.

Read the latest on WSHU’s coronavirus coverage here.

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Jay Shah is a former Long Island bureau chief at WSHU.
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