The Lowe Down
Among the many things the pandemic has done, it has shone a light on educational areas of weakness. Any time vulnerability is found, it’s a good thing. We can’t fix something we don’t know is in need of it. One area of weakness that gained attention is the lack of internet access in learners’ homes. Citizens of rural areas of the state knew this shortcoming before COVID-19, but the prospect of reliable access seemed elusive. Since school buildings were closed last spring and the Internet finally appeared to be vital to learning during this time, some movement may be made toward that end.
On Monday, July 27 during Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s daily update, he announced that he's allocating $10 million from an emergency relief fund that will be made available through the CARES Act to purchase 20,000 wireless access points (WAP) to be distributed to homes without internet access. This action is meant to increase wireless access across rural Arkansas in advance of the school year. It was said that the units will meet Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) standards. The powers that be have discovered that it’s hard to close school buildings and allow learning to continue from students’ homes when the internet isn’t available to communicate lessons and assignments. The WAPs may not be a hard fix for the problem, but it’s something.
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