Cooper did not specify when or how students will resume "not-in-person" education, but the notion of remote education raises a number of questions for me. If FAPE is now manifesting as remote, homebound instruction:
- will NCDPI provide a computer for families who don't have one?
- will NCDPI provide internet for families who don't have access?
Some school districts have long been working towards some type of 1:1 computer/student ratio. I imagine laptop sales may spike in the next few weeks.
The question of wifi still exists. A clinician emailed me some helpful links this morning, which may be beneficial for folks you serve, both for education purposes, as well as delivering tele-health. For qualifying families, Spectrum is offering free access to high-speed Internet service.
- 30 Mbps Internet speed (wireless speeds may vary)
- Free Internet Modem
- Free Security Suite
- No Data Caps
- Parental Controls
- No Contracts
In addition, even if you don't qualify for the program above, citing COVID-19, Spectrum is offering special discounts to households affected by this virus. Beginning Monday, March 16, they will offer two free months of internet and WiFi services to new customers in households with Pre-K to 12 or college students who need remote education. This discount will be applied as a credit for your first two months of internet services. They state that they will waive any installation or pre-payment fees to help get you started.
Spectrum is not national, but certainly covers a lot of states. These may be solid resources for your clients. I cannot speak to how long these programs will be available, or what happens when the program ends, so investigate wisely. They do note in the fine grey print: "Equipment, activation and installation fees may apply. Services not available in all areas. Restrictions apply." Still. Might be a boon to some families.
If you live somewhere that a internet provider is offering similar access please let me know in the comments.
Clean your hands!