American Students in the New Crown Epidemic: The Dilemma of No Internet

  Every year, at New Oxford Middle School in Pennsylvania, teacher Antoni Angrini investigates the possibility of seventh-grade students using computers and surfing the Internet safely. Someone always gives a negative answer. Recently, as schools across the country have closed their doors in response to the rapid spread of the new crown epidemic, Angrini’s annual survey has also become meaningful. Some educators have started cloud teaching, and they have transferred daily courses and homework approvals online, but there are still many teachers who do not have such conditions, which has caused this public health crisis to become a technical crisis.
  In Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Washington, and other US federal states, education scholars said they have experienced the tingling of the difference in digitalization, that is, people with high-speed, modern Internet connections and no Internet The gap between the available people is hard to close. Even in the prevalence of Douyin, it seems that every song, every movie, every book can be called up with just one click, there are still millions of Americans who cannot enjoy the basic broadband connection, or cannot afford the Internet fee.
  This burden is particularly heavy on students. Due to technical and economic obstacles, it may be difficult for them to complete their homework online during normal school hours before, and the new crown epidemic has exacerbated this problem. Before the epidemic sweeps across the country, should the US government and the telecommunications industry make more efforts to reduce the huge gap in digitalization among the people?
  ”The new crown epidemic made us realize how controversial our digital divide is and how unequal people are in the enjoyment of broadband.” said Jessica Rosenworthy, a member of the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC). “We will usher in the final trial.”
  With the spread of the new coronavirus, the network not only provides technical premises for employees working from home, but also helps patients and their doctors video chat, but not everyone can enjoy broadband services. According to FCC data, over 21 million Americans do not have high-speed Internet access. Although government regulators and related private companies have invested heavily in this area in recent years, this data has improved, but the digital divide is still very obvious.
  Schools in more than a dozen states and territories have announced the suspension of classes, making this inequality more prominent. Some local officials said they are facing a difficult problem: Should they suspend classes for a few weeks and ask the school to make up for these hours, or try to implement online teaching now? However, according to 2018 data from the Pew Research Center, one in five students from kindergarten to twelfth grade does not have a computer or high-speed Internet connection available, especially children from many low-income and colored families.
  Local officials in Prince George County, Maryland, concluded that they could not guarantee that more than 130,000 local students could access the Internet at home. Therefore, even if Maryland decides to suspend the school next, the teacher should not completely transfer the classroom to the Internet. Brian Toss, director of the St. Mary’s District School District, also said that 30% to 40% of students in the area do not have an Internet connection at home, and about half of the students do not have dedicated electronic equipment for homework.
  In mid-March, as schools considered their options, the FCC began to call on dozens of network providers such as AT&T and Verizon to assume more responsibility to help people stay online even if they were already in arrears. “Under the spread of the new crown epidemic and a series of chaos in our country’s economy, education, medical care, and social life, it is very important to maintain interconnection among Americans.” FCC Chairman Akite Pai said. Some companies have also promised to provide assistance within their reach. For example, Comcast Telecom announced that it will expand the scope of its “low-income household broadband project” and increase the speed of the Internet within the next 60 days to provide free to eligible families. Franchise Communications also said it would provide similar services for children without internet access in the next two months. The problem is that the scope of these services can only cover the areas that the company’s business already covers, which means that some families in desperate need of the Internet may not benefit from them, but the efforts of these companies have still won applause. “I think that’s the first step in change.” Joshua Edmond, the official in charge of the digital convergence policy in Detroit, said. He said that in Detroit public schools, about 60% of students do not have high-speed Internet access at home.
  The US government invests $4 billion annually to help schools stay online. For example, the famous Education Broadband Upgrade Program is designed to help schools and libraries purchase and maintain telecommunications services at high discounts, including high-speed Internet connections. However, experts have been warning about the shortcomings of the project for many years. For example, according to regulations, schools and libraries cannot use state funds to purchase mobile wireless hotspots. In fact, during the new crown epidemic, if schools have wireless hotspots, they cannot access the Internet by other means. Of students can at least go online outside the classroom.
  ”If the FCC’s commitment is to help all students learn and prepare for the future, then all efforts to make the educational environment more equitable are beneficial.” Randy La, director of the Freeman School District in the southern rural area of ​​Spokane, Washington Sale said he would lend equipment to students in need.
  Democratic politician Maria Canterwell said in an interview: “The new crown epidemic will be a tool to examine many things and help us see the world from a different perspective.” Seattle, Washington, where she is based, is the headquarters of Amazon and Microsoft . In March, the North Shore School District in the northwest corner of the city decided to allow 23,000 students to study at home for two weeks through “Cloud Classroom”. “A teacher did an experiment in class, students learn from a distance, take notes, and give feedback on the discussion board,” said Michelle Reid, the school district supervisor. He said that local schools can take this measure because they have unique resources, including local tax policies that are inclined to the local area and high budget funds brought by generous donations from businesses and philanthropists, so that the North Shore School District can recently borrow 4,000 from students Notebooks and 600 wireless hotspots.
  However, in Washington State, such digital services are not available everywhere. State government officials say school budgets vary and not all students are fully networked and prepared like the North Shore School District. “Some communities in our state cannot achieve convenient networking.” Teaching director Chris Rickdal said that some rural areas in northeastern and southeastern Washington State had difficulty installing telephone lines.
  Last week, in Galesburg, Illinois, Knox College teacher Catherine Daniel was thinking about similar issues. Previously, she had asked free art major students how they would feel if teaching was transferred to the Internet next semester. From the responses of the students in the class, she heard a lot of concerns: the students did not like online message boards, but also worried about technical problems; some students did not use laptops or desktops but smart phones when doing online homework . After the outbreak of the new crown epidemic, the problem became more serious. “Their mobile phones may be too old to install the latest software. The mobile phone has very little traffic. It is not always possible to connect to the wireless network. The place where they can connect to the wireless is where they need to avoid going,” she said.
  ”Even on weekdays, there is no Starbucks with internet access,” Angrini, who teaches English and sociology in New Oxford Township, said in an interview. The state has just passed a law that allows schools to temporarily implement online teaching in bad weather, so that there is no need to make up for the missing courses at the end of the semester. But in the end, the management of the local school district realized that many of their students might need to find ways to get online, so online teaching was not really implemented. Now that the new crown epidemic has broken out, schools have suspended classes, and this problem is once again in front of them.