While online learning has become standard at Connecticut schools, not all students have internet access. In New Britain about 1,000 students do not, at least not yet.
“We’re gonna find a way to solve this for our families, it’s that important,” said Nancy Sarra, New Britain superintendent of schools.
Since closing schools in March, devices have been distributed to nearly 2,900 families. Still there is a shortfall the school system says they are addressing. They’re waiting on 2,400 laptops from the Dalio Foundation which will bring 60,000 to Connecticut in a partnership with the state. The New Britain school system is also purchasing more.
“In this immediacy, we are now looking to deploy another 3,000 to 4,000 to those families,” said Sarra.
Devices aren’t the only obstacle facing some New Britain students. Internet access itself is another issue. Internet connectivity is lacking in neighborhoods the superintendent describes as hot spots.
“We define that as 20 or more students who are not connecting in a particular neighborhood,” explained Sarra.
Seeking assistance providing internet service to students, New Britain Schools called for help, dialing up a local car dealer.
Schaller Auto World is donating the use of 16 vehicles. Each will be outfitted with WiFi capability and will soon be positioned around the city, to give students more access to online learning.
“This is going to provide access, and that’s the number one thing when we talk about equity,” said Sarra.
New Britain Schools will pay for the equipment while Schaller provides the vehicles and drivers. For dealership President Art Schaller the decision to help was easy. “It was an automatic,” said Schaller. “How do you say no to helping the kids who can’t go to school. I just couldn’t imagine saying no.”